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^arbarii College itftrarg 




(Class of 1910) 


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Author of the " Time Machine ' 




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( OCT 4 1918 

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euphemia's new entebtainment (this is illustrated) 





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HOW I DIED .... 






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The world mends. In my younger days people believed 
in mahogany ; some of my readers will remember it — a 
heavy, shining substance, having a singularly close 
resemblance to raw liver, exceedingly heavy to move, and 
esteemed on one or other count the noblest of all woods. 
Such of us as were very poor and had no mahogany 
pretended to have mahogany; and the proper hepatite 
tint was got by veneering.. That makes one incline to 
think it was the colour that pleased people. In those 
days there was a word " trashy," now almost lost to the 
world. My dear Aunt Charlotte used that epithet when, 
in her feminine way, she swore at people she did not like. 
" Trashy " and " paltry " and " Brummagem " was the very 
worst she could say of them. And she had, I remember, 
an intense aversion to plated goods and bronze halfpence. 
The halfpence of her youth had been vast and corpulent 
red-brown discs, which it was folly to speak of as small 
change. They were fine handsome coins, and almost as 
inconvenient as crown-pieces. I remember she corrected 
me once when I was very young. " Don't call a penny a 
copper, dear," she said ; " copper is a metal. The pennies 
they have nowadays are bronze." It is odd how our 
childish impressions cling to us. I still regard bronze as a 
kind of upstart intruder, a mere trashy pretender among 


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All my Aunt Charlotte's furniture was thoroughly good, 
and most of it extremely uncomfortable ; there was not a 
thing for a little boy to break and escape damnation in the 
household. Her china was the only thing with a touch of 
beauty in it — at least I remember nothing else— and each 
of her blessed plates was worth the happiness of a mortal 
for days together. And they dressed me in a Nessus suit 
of valuable garments. I learned the value of thoroughly 
good things only too early. I knew the equivalent of a 
teacup to the very last scowl, and I have hated good, 
handsome property ever since. For my part I love cheap 
things, trashy things, things made of the commonest 
rubbish that money can possibly buy; things as vulgar 
as primroses, and as transitory as a morning's frost. 

Think of all the advantages of a cheap possession — 
cheap and nasty, if you will — compared with some valuable 
substitute. Suppose you need this or that. " Get a good 
one," advises Aunt Charlotte ; " one that will last." You 
do— and it does last. It lasts like a family curse. These 
great plain valuable things, as plain as good women, as 
complacently assured of their intrinsic worth — who does 
not know them ? My Aunt Charlotte scarcely had a nfcw 
thing in her life. Her mahogany was avuncular; her 
china remotely ancestral; her feather beds and her 
bedsteads ! — they were haunted ; the births, marriages, 
and deaths associated with the best one was the history 
of our race for three generations. There was more in her 
house than the tombstone rectitude of the chair-backs 
to remind me of the graveyard. I can still remember 
the sombre aisles of that house, the vault-like shadows, 
the magnificent window curtains that blotted out the 
windows. Life was too trivial for such things. She 
never knew she tired of them, but she did. That was the 
secret of her temper, I think ; they engendered her sombre 
Calvinism, her perception of the trashy quality of human 
life. The pretence that they were the accessories to 
human life was too transparent. We were the accessories ; 
we minded them for a little while, and then we passed 
away. They wore us out and cast us aside. We were the. 
changing scenery; they were the actors who played on 

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through the piece. It was even so with clothing. We 
buried my other maternal aunt — Aunt Adelaide — and 
wept, and partly forgot her; but her wonderful silk 
dresses — they would stand alone — still went rustling 
cheerfully about an ephemeral world. 

All that offended my sense of proportion, my Reeling 
of what is due to human life, even when I was a little boy. 
I want things of my own, things I can break without 
breaking my heart ; and, since one can live but once, I want 
some change in my life — to have this kind of thing and 
then that. I never valued Aunt Charlotte's good old 
things until I sold them. They sold remarkably well: 
those chairs like nether millstones for the grinding away 
of men; the fragile china — an incessant anxiety until 
accident broke it, and the spell of it at the same time ; 
those silver spoons, by virtue of which Aunt Charlotte 
went in fear of burglary for six-and-fifty years ; the bed 
from which I alone of all my kindred had escaped ; the 
wonderful old, erect, high-shouldered, silver-faced clock. 

But, as I say, our ideas are changing — mahogany has 
gone, and repp curtains. Articles are made for man, now- 
adays, and not man, by careful early training, for articles. 
I feel myself to be in many respects a link with the past. 
Commodities come like the spring flowers, and vanish again. 
"Who steals my watch steals trash," as some poet has 
remarked ;Jthe thing is made of I know not what metal, and 
if I leave it on the mantel for a day or so it goes a deep 
blackish purple that delights me exceedingly. My grand- 
father's hat — I understood when I was a little boy that I 
was to have that some day. But now I get a hat for ten 
shillings, or less, two or three times a year. In the old 
days buying clothes was well-nigh as irrevocable as 
marriage. Our flat is furnished with glittering things — 
wanton arm-chairs just strong enough not to collapse 
under you, books in gay covers, carpets you are free to 
drop lighted fusees upon ; you may scratch what you like, 
upset your coffee, cast your cigar ash to the four quarters 
of heaven. Our guests, at anyrate, are not snubbed by 
our furniture. It knows its place. 

But it is in the case of art and adornment that 

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cheapness is most delightful The only thing that 
betrayed a care for beauty on the part of my aunt was 
her dear old flower garden, and even there she was not 
above suspicion. Her favourite flowers were tulips, rigid 
tulips with opulent crimson streaks. She despised 
wildings. Her ornaments were simply displays of the 
precious metal. Had she known the price of platinum 
she would have worn that by preference. Her chains and 
brooches and rings were bought by weight. She would 
have turned her back on Benvenuto Cellini if he was not 
22 carats fine. She despised water-colour art; her 
conception of a picture was a vast domain of oily brown 
by an Old Master. The Babbages at the Hall had a 
display of gold plate swaggering in the corner of the 
dining-room; and- the visitor (restrained by a plush 
rope from examining the workmanship) was told the 
value, and so passed on. I like my art unadorned: 
thought and skill, and the other strange quality that 
is added thereto, to make things beautiful — and nothing 
more. A farthing's worth of paint and paper, and, behold ! 
a thing of beauty! — as they do in Japan. And if it 
should fall into the fire — well, it has gone like yesterday's 
sunset, and to-morrow there will be another. 

These Japanese are indeed the apostles of cheapness. 
The Greeks lived to teach the world beauty, the Hebrews 
to teach it morality, and now the Japanese are hammering 
in the lesson that men may be honourable, daily life 
delightful, and a nation great without either freestone 
houses, marble mantelpieces, or mahogany sideboards. I 
have sometimes wished that my Aunt Charlotte could have 
travelled among the Japanese nation. She would, I know, 
have called it a " parcel of trash." Their use of paper — 
paper suits, paper pocket-handkerchiefs — would have 
made her rigid with contempt. I have tried, but I cannot 
imagine my Aunt Charlotte in paper underclothing. Her 
aversion to paper was extraordinary. Her Book of Beauty 
was printed on satin, and all her books were bound in 
leather, the boards regulated rather than decorated with a 
severe oblong. Her proper sphere was among the ancient 
Babylonians, among which massive populace even the 

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newspapers were built of brick. She would have 
compared with the King's daughter whose raiment was 
of wrought gold. When I was a little boy I used to think 
she had a mahogany skeleton. However, she is gone, poor 
old lady, and at least she left me her furniture. Her 
ghost was torn in pieces after the sale — must have been. 
Even the old china went this way and that. I took what 
was perhaps a mean revenge of her for the innumerable 
black-holeings,bread-and- water dinners, summary chastise- 
ments, and impossible tasks she inflicted upon me for 
offences against her too solid possessions. You will see it 
at Woking. It is a light and graceful cross. It is a 
mere speck of white between the monstrous granite paper- 
weights that oppress the dead on either side of her. 
Sometimes I am half sorry for that. When the end comes 
I shall not care to look her in the face — she will be so 

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I do not know whether this will awaken a sympathetic 

lassitude in, say, fifty per cent, of its readers, or whether 

my experience is unique and my testimony simply curious. 

At anyrate, it is as true as I can make it. Whether 

this is a mere mood, and a certain flagrant exhilaration my 

true attitude towards things, or this is my true attitude 

and the exuberant phase a lapse from it, I cannot say. 

Probably it does not matter. The thing is that I find life 

an extremely troublesome affair. I do not want to make 

any railing accusations against life ; it is — to my taste — 

neither very sad nor very horrible. At times it is distinctly 

amusing. Indeed, I know nothing in the same line that can 

quite compare with it. But there is a difference between 

general appreciation and uncritical acceptance. At times 

I find life a Bother. 

The kind of thing that I object to is, as a good example, 

all the troublesome things one has to do every morning 

in getting up. There is washing. This is an age of 

unsolicited personal confidences, and I will frankly confess 

that if it were not for Euphemia I do not think I should 

wash at all. There is a vast amount of humbug about 

washing. Vulgar people not only profess a passion for 

the practice, but a physical horror of being unwashed. It 

is a sort of cant. I can understand a sponge bath being a 

novelty the first time and exhilarating the second and 

third. But day after day, week after week, month after 

month, and nothing to show at the end of it all ! Then 

there is shaving. I have to get shaved because Euphemia 

hates me with a blue jowl, and I will admit I hate myself. 

Yet, if I were left alone, I do not think my personal taste 

would affect my decision; I will say that for myself. 


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Either I hack about with a blunt razor — my razors are 

always blunt — until I am a kind of Whitechapel Horror, 

and with hair in tufts upon my chin like the top of a 

Bbsjesman's head, or else I have to spend all the morning 

being dabbed about the face by a barber with damp hands. 

In either case it is a repulsive thing to have, eating into 

one's time when one might be living ; and I have calculated 

that all the hair I have lost in this way, put end to end, 

would reach to Berlin. All that vital energy thrown 

away ! However, " Thorns and bristles shall it bring forth 

to thee." I suppose it is part of the primal curse, and 

I try and stand it like a man. But the thing is a bother 

all the same. 

Then after shaving comes the hunt for the collar-stud. 
Of all idiotic inventions the modern collar is the worst. 
A man who has to write things for such readers as mine 
cannot think over-night of where he puts his collar-stud ; 
he has to keep his mind at an altogether higher level. 
Consequently he walks about the bedroom, thinking hard, 
and dropping things about : here a vest and there a collar, 
and sowing a bitter harvest against the morning. Or he 
sits on the edge of the bed jerking his garments this way 
and that. " I shot a slipper in the air," as the poet sings, 
and in the morning it turns up in the most impossible 
quarters, and where you least expect it. And, talking of 

foing to bed, before Euphemia took the responsibility over, 
was always forgetting to wind my watch. But now that 
is one of the things she neglects. 

Then, after getting up, there is breakfast. Autolycus of 
the Pall Mall Gazette may find heaven there, but I am 
differently constituted. There is, to begin with the essence 
of the offence — the stuff that has to be eaten somehow. 
Then there is the paper. Unless it is the face of a 
fashionable beauty, I know of nothing more absolutely 
uninteresting than a morning paper. You always expect 
to find something in it, and never do. It wastes half my 
moping sometimes, going over and over the thing, and 
trying to find out why they publish it. If I edited a 
daily I think I should do like my father does when he 
writes to ma " Things much the same," he writes ; " the 

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usual fussing about the curate's red socks " — a long letter, 
for him. The rest margin. And, by the bye, there are 
letters every morning at breakfast, too ! 

Now I do not grumble at letters. You can read them 
instead of getting on with your breakfast. They are 
entertaining in a way, and you can tear them up at the 
end, and in that respect at least they are better than 
people who come to see you. Usually, too, you need not 
ma"ke a reply. But sometimes Euphemia gets hold of 
some still untorn, and says in her dictatorial way that 
they have to be answered — insists— says I must Yet she 
knows that nothing fills me with a livelier horror than 
having to answer letters. It paralyses me. I waste whole 
days sometimes mourning over the time that I shall have 
to throw away presently, answering some needless imper- 
tinence — requests for me to return books lent to me; 
reminders from the London Library that my subscription 
is overdue ; proposals for me to renew my ticket at the 
stores — Euphemia's business really ; invitations for me to 
go and be abashed before impertinent distinguished people : 
all kinds of bothering things. 

And speaking of letters and invitations brings me 
round to friends. I dislike most people ; in London they 
get in one's way in the street and fill up railway carriages, 
and in the country they stare at you — but I hate my 
friends. Yet Euphemia says I must "keep up" my 
friends. They would be all very well if they were really 
true friends and respected my feelings and left me alone, 
just to sit quiet. But they come wearing shiny clothes, 
and mop and mow at me and expect me to answer their 
gibberings. Polite conversation always appears to me to 
be a wicked perversion of the blessed gift of speech, 
which, I take it, was given us to season our lives rather 
than to make them insipid. New friends are the worst 
in this respect. With old friends one is more at home ; 
you give them something to eat or drink, or look at, or 
something — whatever they seem to want— and just turn 
round and go on smoking quietly. But every now and 
then Euphemia or Destiny inflicts a new human being 
upon me. I do not mean a baby, though the sentence 

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has got that turn somehow, but an introduction ; and the 
wretched thing, all angles and offence, keeps bobbing 
about me and discovering new ways of worrying me, 
trying, I believe, to find out what topics interest me, 
though the fact is no topics interest me. Once or twice, 
of course, I have met human beings I think I could have 
got on with very well, after a time; but in this mood, at 
least, I doubt if any human being is quite worth the 
bother of a new acquaintance. 

These are just sample bothers — shaving, washing, 
answering letters, talking to people. I could specify 
hundreds more. Indeed, in my sadder moments, it seems 
to me life is all compact of bothers. There are the 
details of business — knowing the date approximately (an 
incessant anxiety) and the time of day. Then, having to 
buy things. Euphemia does most of this, it is true, but 
she draws the line at my boots and gloves and hosiery 
and tailoring. Then, doing up parcels and finding pieces 
of string or envelopes or stamps — which Euphemia might 
very well manage for me. Then, finding your way back 
after a quiet, thoughtful walk. Then, having to get 
matches for your pipe. I sometimes dream of a better 
world, where pipe, pouch, and matches all keep together 
instead of being mutually negatory. But Euphemia is 
always putting everything into some hiding-hole or other, 
which she calls its " place." Trivial things in their way, 
you may say, yet each levying so much toll on my brain 
and nervous system, and demanding incessant vigilance 
and activity. I calculated once that I wasted a master- 
piece upon these mountainous little things about every 
three months of my life. Can I help thinking of them, 
then, and asking why I suffer thus? And can I avoid 
seeing at last how it is they hang together ? 

For there is still one other bother, a kind of bother 
botfwruniy to tell of, though I hesitate at the telling. It 
brings this rabble herd of worries into line and makes 
them formidable; it is, so to speak, the Bother Com- 
mander-in-Chief. Well! Euphemia I simply worship 
the ground she treads upon, mind, but at the same time 
. the truth is the truth. Euphemia is a bother. She is 

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a brave little woman, and helps me in every conceivaMe 
way. But I wish she would not. It is so obviously all 
her doing. She makes me get up of a morning — I would 
not stand as much from anybody else — and keeps a sharp 
eye on my chin and collar. If it were not for her I could 
sit about always with no collar or tie on in that old 
jacket she gave to the tramp, and just smoke and grow 
a beard and let all the bothers slide. I would never 
wash, never shave, never answer any letters, never go to 
see any friends, never do any work — except, perhaps, an 
insulting postcard to a publisher now and again. I would 
just sit about. 

Sometimes I think this may be peculiar in me. At 
other times I fancy I am giving voice to the secret feeling 
of every member of my sex. I suspect, then, that we 
would all do as the noble savage does, take our things 
off and lie about comfortable, if only someone had the 
courage to begin. It is these women — all love and 
reverence to Euphemia notwithstanding — who make us 
work and bother us with Things. They keep us decent, 
and remind us we have a position to support. And 
really, after all, this is not my original discovery ! There 
is the third chapter of Genesis, for instance. And then 
who has not read Carlyle's gloating over a certain 
historical suit of leather ? It gives me a queer thrill of 
envy, that Quaker Fox and his suit of leather. Conceive 
it, if you can ! One would never have to quail under the 
scrutiny of a tailor any more. Thoreau, too, come to 
think of it, was, by way of being a prophet, a pioneer 
in this Emancipation of Man from Bothery. 

Then the silent gentry who brew our Chartreuse; 
what are they in retirement for? Looking back into 
history, with the glow of discovery in my eyes, I find 
records of wise men — everyone acknowledged they were 
wise men — who lived apart. In every age the same 
associate of solitude, silence, and wisdom. The holy 
hermits ! . . . I grant it, they professed to flee wickedness 
and seek after righteousness, but now my impression is 
that they fled bothers. We all know they had an intense 
aversion to any savour of domesticity, and they never ? 

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baaved, washed, dined, visited, had new clothes. Holiness, 

indeed! They were vivcurs. . . . We have witnessed 

Religion without Theology, and why not an TJnsectarian 

Thebaid ? I sometimes fancy it needs only one brave 

man to begin. ... If it were not for the fuss Euphemia 

would mate I certainly should. But I know she would 

come and worry me worse than St. Anthony was worried 

until I put them all on again, and that keeps me from 

the attempt. 

I am curious whether mine is the common experience. 

I fancy, after all, I am only seeing in a clearer way, 

putting into modern phrase, so to speak, an observation 

old as the Pentateuch. And looking up I read upon a 

little almanac with which Euphemia has cheered my 

desk: — 

"The world was sad" (sweet sadness!) 
"The garden was a wild" (a picturesque wild) 
"And man the hermit" (he made no complaint) 
"Till the woman smiled."— Campbell. 

[And very shortly after he had, as you know, all that 
bother about the millinery.] 


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Wife-choosing is an unending business. This sounds 
immoral, but what I mean will be clearer in the context. 
People have lived — innumerable people — exhausted 
experience, and yet other people keep on coming to hand, 
none the wiser, none the better. It is like a waterfall 
more than anything else in the world. Every year one 
has to turn to and warn another batch about these stale 
old things. Yet it is one's duty — the last thing that 
remains to a man. And as a piece of worldly wisdom, 
that has nothing to do with wives, always leave a few 
duties neglected for the comfort of your age. There 
are such a lot of other things one can do when one is 

Now, the kind of wife a young fellow of eight- or nine-and- 
twenty insists on selecting is something of one-and-twenty 
or less, inexperienced, extremely pretty, graceful, and well 
dressed, not too clever, accomplished ; but I need not go 
on, for the youthful reader can fill in the picture himself 
from his own ideal. Every young man has his own ideal, 
as a matter of course, and they are all exactly alike. Now, 
I do not intend to repeat all the stale old saws of out-of- 
date wiseacres. Most of them are even more foolish than 
the follies they reprove. Take, for instance, the statement 
that " beauty fades." Absurd ; everyone knows perfectly 
well that, as the years creep on, beauty simply gets more 
highly coloured. And then, " beauty is only skin-deep." 
Fantastically wrong ! Some of it is not that ; and, for the 
rest, is a woman like a toy balloon ? — just a surface ? To 
hear that proverb from a man is to know him at once for 
a phonographic kind of fool. The fundamental and 
enduring grace of womanhood goes down to the skeleton ; 


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you cannot have a pretty face without a pretty skull, just 
as you cannot have one without a good temper. 

Yet all the same there is an excellent reason why one 
should shun beauty in a prospective wife, at anyrate 
obvious beauty — the kind of beauty people talk about, 
and which gets into the photographers' windows. The 
common beautiful woman has a style of her own, a 
favourite aspect. After all, she cannot be perfect She 
comes upon you, dazzles you, marries you ; there is a time 
of ecstasy. People envy you, continue to envy you. After 
a time you envy yourself — yourself of the day before 
yesterday. For the imperfection, the inevitable imperfec- 
tion — in one case I remember it was a smile — becomes 
visible to you, becomes your especial privilege. That is the 
real reason. No beauty is a beauty to her husband. But 
with the plain woman — the thoroughly plain woman — it is 
different. At first — I will not mince matters — her ugliness 
is an impenetrable repulse. Face it. After a time little 
things begin to appear through the violent discords : little 
scraps of melody — a shy tenderness in her smile that peeps 
out at you and vanishes, a something that is winning, 
looking out of her eyes. You find a waviness of her hair 
that you never saw at the beginning, a certain surprising, 
pleasing, enduring want of clumsiness in part of her ear. 
And it is yours. You can see she strikes the beholder 
with something of a shock ; and while the beauty of the 
beauty is common for all the world to rejoice in, you will 
find in your dear, plain wife beauty enough and to spare ; 
exquisite — for it is all your own, your treasure-trove, your 
safely-hidden treasure. . . . 

Then, in the matter of age ; though young fellows do 
not imagine it, it is very easy to marry a wife too young. 
Marriage has been defined as a foolish bargain in which 
one man provides for another man's daughter, but there 
is no reason why this should go so far as completing her 
education. If your conception of happiness is having 
something pretty and innocent and troublesome about you, 
something that you can cherish and make happy, a pet 
rabbit is in every way preferable. At the worst that will 
nibble your boots. I have known several cases of the girl- 


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wife, and it always began like an idyll, charmingly ; the 
tenderest care on one hand, winsome worship on the other 
— until some little thing, a cut chin or a missing paper, 
startled the pure and natural man out of his veneer, 
dancing and blaspheming, with the most amazing con- 
sequences. Only a proven saint should marry a girl- wife, 
and his. motives might be misunderstood. The idyllic wife 
is a beautiful thing to read about, but in practice idylls 
should be kept episodes ; in practice the idyllic life is a 
little too like a dinner that is all dessert. A common 
man, after a time, tires of winsome worship ; he craves 
after companionship, and a sympathy based on experience. 
The ordinary young man, with the still younger wife, I 
have noticed, continues to love her with all his heart — 
and spends his leisure telling somebody else's wife all 
about it. If in these days of blatant youth an experienced 
man's counsel is worth anything, it would be to marry a 
woman considerably older than oneself, if one must marry 
at all. And while upon this topic — and I have lived long 
— the ideal wife, I am persuaded, from the close observa- 
tion of many years, is invariably, by some mishap, a 
widow. . . . 

Avoid social charm. It was the capacity for entertain- 
ing visitors that ruined Paradise. It grows upon a woman. 
An indiscriminating personal magnetism is perhaps the 
most dreadful vice a wife can have. You think you have 
married the one woman in the world, and you find you 
have married a host — that is to say, a hostess. Instead 
of making a home for you she makes you something 
between an ethnographical museum and a casual ward. 
You find your rooms littered with people and teacups and 
things, strange creatures that no one could possibly care 
for, that seem scarcely to care for themselves. You go 
about the house treading upon chance geniuses, and get 
tipped by inexperienced guests. And even when she does 
not entertain, she is continually going out. I do not deny 
that charming people are charming, that their company 
should be sought, but seeking it in marriage is an 
altogether different matter. 

Then, I really must insist that young men do not 

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understand the real truth about accomplishments. There 
comes a day when the most variegated wife comes 
to the end of her tunes, and another when she ends them 
for the second time ; Vita longa, ars brevis — at least, as 
regards the art of the schoolgirl. It is only like marrying 
a slightly more complicated barrel-organ. And, for 
another point, watch the young person you would honour 
with your hand for the slightest inkling of economy or 
tidiness. Young men are so full of poetry and emotion 
that it does not occur to them how widely the sordid vices 
are distributed in the other sex. If you are a hotel 
proprietor, or a school proprietor, or a day labourer, such 
weaknesses become a strength, of course, but not otherwise. 
For a literary person — if perchance you are a literary person 
— it is altogether too dreadful. You are always getting 
swept and garnished, straightened up and sent out to 
be shaved. And home — even your study — becomes a 
glittering, spick-and-span mechanism. But you know the 
parable of the seven devils ? 

To conclude, a summary. The woman you choose 
should be plain, as plain as you can find, as old or older 
than yourself, devoid of social gifts or accomplishments, 
poor — for your self-respect — and with a certain amiable 
untidiness. Of course no young man will heed this, but 
at least I have given my counsel, and very excellent 
reasons for that counsel. And possibly I shall be able to 
remind him that I told him as much, in the course of a 
few years' time. And, by the bye, I had almost forgotten! 
Never by any chance marry a girl whose dresses do up at 
the back, unless you can afford her a maid or so of her 

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And the box, Euphemia's. Brutally raided it was by an 
insensate husband, eager for a tie and too unreasonably 
impatient to wait an hour or so until she could get home 
and find it for him. There was, of course, no tie at all in 
that box, for all his stirring — as anyone might have 
known ; but, if there was no tie, there were certain papers 
that at least suggested a possibility of whiling away the 
time until the Chooser and Distributer of Ties should 
return. And, after all, there is no reading like your 
accidental reading come upon unawares. 

It was a discovery, indeed, that Euphemia had papers. 
At the first glance these close-written sheets suggested a 
treasonable Keynote, and the husband gripped it with a 
certain apprehension mingling with his relief at the opiate 
of reading. It was, so to speak, the privilege of police he 
exercised, so he justified himself. He began to read. But 
what is this? "She stood on the balcony outside the 
window, while the noblest-born in the palace waited on 
her every capricious glance, and watched for an unbending 
look to relieve her hauteur, but in vain." None of your 
snippy-snappy Keynote there ! 

Then he turned over a page or so of the copy, doubting 
if the privilege of police still held good. Standing out by 
virtue of a different ink, and coming immediately after 
"bear her to her proud father," were the words, "How 
many yards of carpet £ yds. wide will cover room, width 
16 ft., length 27£ ft.?" Then he knew he was in the 
presence of the great romance that Euphemia wrote when 
she was sixteen. He had heard something of it before. 


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He held it doubtfully in his hands, for the question of 
conscience still troubled him. " Bah ! " he said abruptly, 
" not to find it irresistible was to slight the authoress and 
her skill" And with that he sat plump down among the 
things in the box very comfortably and began reading, and, 
indeed, read until Euphemia arrived. But she, at the 
sight of his head and legs, made several fragmentary and 
presumably offensive remarks about crushing some hat or 
other, and proceeded with needless violence to get him out 
of the box again. However, that is my own private 
trouble. We are concerned now with the merits of 
Euphemia's romance. 

The hero of the story is a Venetian, named (for some 
unknown reason) Ivan di Sorno. So far as I ascertained, 
he is the entire house of Di Sorno referred to in the title. 
Wo other Di Sornos transpired. like others in the story, 
he is possessed of untold wealth, tempered by a profound 
sorrow, for some cause which remains unmentioned, but 
which is possibly internal. He is first displayed " pacing 
a sombre avenue of ilex and arbutus that reflected with 
singular truth the gloom of his countenance/' and " toying 
sadly with the jewelled hilt of his dagger." He meditates 
upon his loveless life and the burthen of riches. Presently 
he "paces the long and magnificent gallery," where a 
' hundred generations of Di Sornos, each with the same 
flashing eye and the same marble brow, look down with 
the same sad melancholy upon the beholder" — a truly 
monotonous exhibition. It would be too much for any- 
one, day after day. He decides that he will travel. 

The next chapter is headed " In Old Madrid," and Di 
Sorno, cloaked to conceal his grandeur, " moves sad and 
observant among the giddy throng." But " Gwendolen " 
— the majestic Gwendolen of the balcony — "marked his 
pallid yet beautiful countenance." And the next day at 
the bull-fight she " flung her bouquet into the arena, and 
turning to Di Sorno" — a perfect stranger, mind you — 
"smiled commandingly." "In a moment he had flung 
himself headlong down among the flashing blades of the 
toreadors and the trampling confusion of bulls, and in 

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another he stood before her, bowing low with the recovered 
flowers in his hand. ' Fair sir/ she said, ' methinks my 
poor flowers were scarce worth your trouble.' " A very 
proper remark. And then suddenly I put the manuscript 

My heart was full of pity for Euphemia. Thus had she 
gone a-dreaming. A man of imposing physique and flash- 
ing eye, who would fling you oxen here and there, and 
vault in and out of an arena without catching a breath, 
for his lady's sake — and here I sat, the sad reality, a lean 
and slippered literary pretender, and constitutionally 
afraid of cattle. 

Poor little Euphemia ! For after all is said and done, 
and the New Woman gibed out of existence, I am afraid 
we do undeceive these poor wives of ours a little after the 
marrying is over. It may be they have deceived them- 
selves, in the first place, but that scarcely affects their 
disappointment These dream-lovers of theirs, these 
monsters of unselfishness and devotion, these tall fair 
Donovans and dark worshipping Wanderers ! And then 
comes the rabble rout of us poor human men, damning at 
our breakfasts, wiping pens upon our coat sleeves, smelling 
of pipes, fearing our editors, and turning Euphemia's 
private boxes into public copy. And they take it so 
steadfastly — most of them. They never let us see the 
romance we have robbed them of, but turn to and make 
the best of it — and us — with such sweet grace. Only now 
and then — as in the instance of a flattened hat — may a 
cry escape them. And even then 

But a truce to reality ! Let us return to Di Sorno. 

This individual does not become enamoured of Gwen- 
dolen, as the crude novel reader might anticipate. He 
answers her " coldly," and his eye rests the while on her 
"tirewoman, the sweet Margot." Then come scenes of 
jealousy and love, outside a castle with heavily mullioned 
windows. The sweet Margot, though she turns out to be 
the daughter of a bankrupt prince, has one characteristic 
of your servant all the world over — she spends all her 
time looking out of the window. Di Sorno tells her of his 
love on the evening of the bull-fight, and she- cheerfully 

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promises to " learn to love him," ant* therafter he spends 
all his days and nights " spurring his fiery steed down the 
road" that leads by the castle containing the young 
scholar. It becomes a habit with him — in all, he does it 
seventeen times in three chapters. Then, " ere it is too 
late," he implores Margot to fly. 

Gwendolen, after a fiery scene with Margot, in which 
she calls her a "petty minion," — pretty language for a 
young gentlewoman, — "sweeps with unutterable scorn from 
the room," never, to the reader's huge astonishment, to 
appear in the story again, and Margot flies with Di Sorno 
to Grenada, where the Inquisition, consisting apparently 
of a single monk with a " blazing eye," becomes extremely 
machinatory. A certain Countess di Morno, who intends 
to marry Di Sorno, and who has been calling into the 
story in a casual kind of way since the romance began, 
now comes prominently forward. She has denounced 
Margot for heresy, and at a masked ball the Inquisition, 
disguised in a yellow domino, succeeds in separating the 
young couple, and in carrying off " the sweet Margot " to 
a convent. 

" Di Sorno, half distraught, flung himself into a cab 
and drove to all the hotels in Grenada " (he overlooked 
the police station), and, failing to find Margot, becomes 
mad. He goes about ejaculating "Mad, mad!" than 
which nothing could be more eloquent of his complete 
mental inversion. In his paroxysms the Countess di 
Morno persuades him to " lead her to the altar," but on 
the way (with a certain indelicacy they go to church in 
the same conveyance) she lets slip a little secret. So Di 
Sorno jumps out of the carriage, "hurling the crowd 
apart," and, " flourishing his drawn sword," " clamoured at 
the gate of the Inquisition " for Margot. The Inquisition, 
represented by the fiery-eyed monk, "looked over the 
gate at him." No doubt it felt extremely uncomfortable. 

Now it was just at this thrilling part that Euphemia 
came home, and the trouble about the flattened hat began. 
I never flattened her hat. It was in the box, and so 

w&s I ; but as for deliberate flattening It was just 

a thing that happened. She should not write such 

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interesting stories if she expects me to go on tiptoe 
through the world looking about for her hats. To have 
that story taken away just at that particular moment 
was horrible. There was fully as much as I had read still 
to come, so that a lot happened after this duel of Sword 
v. Fiery Eye. I know from a sheet that came out of 
place that Margot stabbed herself with a dagger (" richly 
jewelled "), but of all that came between I have not the 
faintest suspicion. That is the peculiar interest of it. 
At this particular moment the one book I want to read in 
all the world is the rest of this novel of Euphemia's. 
And simply, on the score of a new hat needed, she keeps 
it back and haggles ! 

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I must admit that in conversation I am not a brilliant 
success. Partly, indeed, that may be owing to the 
assiduity with which my aunt suppressed my early essays 
in the art : " Children," she said, " should be seen but not 
heard," and incontinently rapped my knuckles. To a 
larger degree, however, I regard it as intrinsic. This 
tendency to silence, to go out of the rattle and dazzle of 
the conversation into a quiet apart, is largely, I hold, the 
consequence of a certain elevation and breadth and 
tenderness of mind; I am no blowfly to buzz my way 
through the universe, no rattle that I should be expected 
to delight my fellow-creatures by the noises I produce. 
I go about to this social function and that, deporting 
myself gravely and decently in silence, taking, if possible, 
a back seat ; and, in consequence of that, people who do 
not understand me have been heard to describe me as a 
" stick," as " shy," and by an abundance of the like un- 
flattering terms. So that I am bound almost in self- 
justification to set down my reasons for this temperance 
of mine in conversation. 

Speech, no doubt, is a valuable gift, but at the same 
time it is a gift that may be abused. What is regarded 
as polite conversation is, I hold, such an abuse. Alcohol, 
opium, tea, are all very excellent things in their way; 
but imagine continuous alcohol, an incessant opium, or to 
receive, ocean-like, a perennially flowing river of tea! 
That is my objection to this conversation : its continuous- 
ness. You have to keep on. You find three or four 
people gathered together, and instead of being restful and 


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recreative, sitting in comfortable attitudes and at peace 
with themselves and each other, and now and again, 
perhaps three or four times in an hour, making a 
worthy and memorable remark, they are all haggard and 
intent upon keeping this fetish flow agoing. A 
fortuitous score of cows in a field are a thousand times 
happier than a score of people deliberately assembled for l 
/ the purposes of happiness. These conversationalists say ^ 
the most shallow and needless of things, impart aimless in- 
formation, simulate interest they do not feel, and generally 
impugn their claim to be considered reasonable creatures. 
Why, when people assemble without hostile intentions, it 
should be so imperative to keep the trickling rill of talk 
running, I find it impossible to imagine. It is a vestige 
of the old barbaric times, when men murdered at sight 
for a mere whim ; when it was good form to take off your 
sword in the antechamber, and give your friend your 
dagger-hand, to show him it was no business visit. 
Similarly, you keep up this babblement to -show your 
mind has no sinister concentration, not necessarily 
because you have anything to say, but as a guarantee of 
good faith. You have to make a noise all the time, like 
the little boy who was left in the room with the plums. 
It is the only possible explanation. 

To a logical mind there is something very distressing in 
this social law of gabble. Out of regard for Mrs. A, let 
us say, I attend some festival she has inaugurated. There 
I meet for the first time a young person of pleasant 
exterior, and I am placed in her company to deliver her 
at a dinner-table, or dance her about, or keep her out of 
harm's way, in a cosy nook. She has also never seen me 
before, and probably does not want particularly to see me 
now. However, I find her nice to look at, and she has 
taken great pains to make herself nice to look at, and 
why we cannot pass the evening, I looking at her and she 
being looked at, I cannot imagine. But no; we must 
talk. Now, possibly there are topics she knows about and 
I do not — it is unlikely, but suppose so ; on these topics 
she requires no information. Again, I know about other 
topics things unknown to her, and it seems a mean and 

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priggish thing to broach these, since they put her at a 
disadvantage. Thirdly, comes a last group of subjects 
upon which we are equally informed, and upon which, 
therefore, neither of us is justified in telling things to 
the other. This classification of topics seems to me 

These considerations, I think, apply to all conver- 
sations. In every conversation, every departure must 
either be a presumption when you talk into your an- 
tagonist's special things, a pedantry when you fall back 
upon your own, or a platitude when you tell each other 
things you both know. I don't see any other line a 
conversation can take. The reason why one has to keep 
up the stream of talk is possibly, as I have already 
suggested, to manifest goodwill. And in so many cases 
this could be expressed so much better by a glance, a 
deferential carriage, possibly in some cases a gentle 
pressure of the hand, or a quiet persistent smile. And 
suppose there is some loophole in my reasoning — though 
I cannot see it — and that possible topics exist, how 
superficial and unexact is the best conversation to a 
second-rate book! 

Even with two people you see the objection, but when 
three or four are gathered together the case is infinitely 
worse to a man of delicate perceptions. Let us suppose — 
I do not grant it — that there is a possible sequence of 
things to say to the person A that really harmonise with 
A and yourself. Grant also that there is a similar 
sequence between yourself and B. Now, imagine yourself 
and A and B at the corners of an equilateral triangle set 
down to talk to each other. The kind of talk that A 
appreciates is a discord with B, and similarly B's sequence 
is impossible in the hearing of A. As a matter of fact, a 
real conversation of three people is the most impossible 
thing in the world. In real life one of the three always 
drops out and becomes a mere audience, or a mere par- 
tisan. In real life you and A talk, and B pretends to 
be taking a share by interjecting interruptions, or one 
of the three talks a monologue. And the more subtle 
your sympathy and the greater your restraint from 

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self-assertion, the more incredible triple and quadruple 
conversation becomes. 

I have observed that there is even nowadays a certain 
advance towards my views in this matter. Men may not 
pick out antagonists, and argue to the general audience 
as once they did : there is a tacit taboo, of controversy, 
neither may you talk your "shop/* nor invite your 
antagonist to talk his. There is also a growing feeling 
against extensive quotations or paraphrases from the 
newspapers. Again, personalities, scandal, are, at least 
in theory, excluded. This narrows the scope down to the 
"last new book," "the last new play," "impressions de 
voyage," and even here it is felt that any very ironical or 
satirical remarks, anything unusual, in fact, may disconcert 
your adversary. You ask: Have you read the Wheels 
of Chance? The answer is "Yes." "Do you like it?" 
" A little vulgar, I thought." And so forth. Most of this 
is stereo. It is akin to responses in church, a prescription, 
a formula. And, following out this line of thought, I 
have had a vision of the twentieth century dinner. At a 
distance it is very like the nineteenth century type ; the 
same bright light, the same pleasant deglutition, the same 
hum of conversation ; but, approaching, you discover each 
diner has a little drum-shaped body under his chin — his 
phonograph. So he dines and babbles at his ease. In 
the smoking-room he substitutes his anecdote record. I 
imagine, too, the suburban hostess meeting the new 
maiden : " I hope, dear, you have brought a lot of conver- 
sation," just as now she asks for the music. For my own 
part, I must confess I find this dinner conversation par- 
ticularly a bother. If I could eat with my eye it would 
be different. 

I lose a lot of friends through this conversational 
difficulty. They think it is my dulness or my temper, 
when really it is only my refined mind, my subtlety of 
consideration. It seems to me that when I g<j to see a 
man, I go to see him — to enjoy his presence. If he is my 
friend, the sight of him healthy and happy is enough for 
me. I don't want him to keep his vocal cords, and I 
don't want to keep my own vocal cords, in incessant 

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vibration all the time I am in his company. If I go to 
see a man, it distracts me to have to talk and it distracts 
me to hear him talking. I can't imagine why one should 
not go and sit about in people's rooms, without bothering 
them and without their bothering you to say all these 
stereotyped things.. Quietly go in, sit down, look at your 
man until you have seen him enough, and then go. Why 

Let me once more insist that this keeping up a conver- 
sation is a sign of insecurity, of want of confidence. All 
those who have had real friends know that when the 
friendship is assured the gabble ceases. You are not at 
the heart of your friend, if either of you cannot go off 
comfortably to sleep in the other's presence. Speech was 
given us to make known our needs, and for imprecation, 
expostulation, and entreaty. This pitiful necessity we are 
under, upon social occasions, to say something — however 
inconsequent — is, I am assured, the very degradation of 


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Ik the literary household of fiction and the drama, things 
are usually in a distressing enough condition. The 
husband, as you know, has a hacking cough, and the wife 
a dying baby, and they write in the intervals of these cares 
among the litter of the breakfast things. Occasionally a 
comic, but sympathetic, servant brings in an armful — 
" heaped up and brimming over " — of rejected MSS., for, 
in the dramatic life, it never rains but it pours. Instead 
of talking about editors in a bright and vigorous fashion, 
as the recipients of rejections are wont, the husband 
groans and covers his face with his hands, and the wife, 
leaving the touching little story she is writing — she posts 
this about 9 p.m., and it brings in a publisher and £100 
or so before 10.30 — comforts him by flopping suddenly 
over his shoulder. "Courage," she says, stroking his 
hyacinthine locks (whereas all real literary men are more 
or less grey or bald). Sometimes, as in Our Flat, comic 
tradesmen interrupt the course of true literature with 
their ignoble desire for cash payment, and sometimes, as 
in Our Boys, uncles come and weep at the infinite 
pathos of a bad breakfast egg. But it's always a very 
sordid, dusty, lump-in-your-throaty affair, and no doubt it 
conduces to mortality by deterring the young and im- 
pressionable from literary vices. As for its truth, that is 
another matter altogether. 

Yet it must not be really imagined that a literary 
household is just like any other. There is the brass 
paper-fastener, for instance. I have sometimes thought 
that Euphemia married me with an eye to these con- 
veniences. She has two in her grey gloves, and one (with 
the head inked) in her boot in the place of a button. 

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Others I suspect her of. Then she fastened the lamp 
shade together with them, and tried one day to introduce 
them instead of pearl buttons as efficient anchorage for 
cuffs and collars. And she made a new handle for the 
little drawer under the inkstand with one. Indeed, the 
literary household is held together, so to speak, by paper- 
fasteners, and how other people get along without them 
we are at a loss to imagine. 

And another point, almost equally important, is that 
the husband is generally messing about at home. That 
is, indeed, to a superficial observer, one of the most 
remarkable characteristics of the literary household. 
Other husbands are cast out in the morning to raven for 
income and return to a home that is swept and garnished 
towards the end of the day ; but the literary husband is 
ever in possession. His work must not be disturbed 
even when he is merely thinking. The study is conse- 
quently a kind of domestic cordite factory, and you are 
never certain when it may explode. The concussion of a 
dust-pan and brush may set it going, the sweeping of a 
carpet in the room upstairs. Then behold a haggard, 
brain-weary man, fierce and dishevelled, and full of 
shattered masterpiece — expostulating. Other houses 
have their day of cleaning out this room, and their day 
for cleaning out that ; but in the literary household there 
is one uniform date for all such functions, and that is 
" to-morrow." So that Mrs. Mergles makes her purifying 
raids with her heart in her mouth, and has acquired a 
way of leaving the pail and brush, or whatever artillery 
she has with her, in a manner that unavoidably engages 
the infuriated brute's attention and so covers her retreat. 

It is a problem that has never been probably solved, 
this discord of order and orderly literary work. Possibly 
it might be done by making the literary person live 
elsewhere or preventing literary persons from having 
households. However it might be done, it is not done. 
This is a thing innocent girls exposed to the surreptitious 
proposals of literary men do not understand. They think 
it will be very fine to have photographs of themselves and 
their " cosy nooks " published in magazines, to illustrate 

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the man's interviews, and the full horror of having this 
feral creature always about the house, and scarcely ever 
being able to do any little thing without his knowing it, 
is not brought properly home to them until escape is 

And then there is the taint of "copy" everywhere. 
That is really the fundamental distinction. It is the 
misfortune of literary people, that they have to write 
about something. There is no reason, of course, why they 
should, but the thing is so. Consequently, they are always 
looking about them for something to write about. They 
cannot take a pure-minded interest in anything in earth or 
heaven. Their servant is no servant, but a character; 
their cat is a possible reservoir of humorous observation ; 
they look out of window and see men as columns walking. 
Even the sanctity of their own hearts, their self-respect, 
their most private emotions are disregarded. The wife is 
infected with the taint. Her private opinion of her 
husband she makes into a short story — forgets its origin 
and shows it him with pride — while the husband decants 
his heart-beats into occasional verse and minor poetry. It 
is amazing what a lot of latter-day literature consists of 
such breaches of confidence. And not simply latter-day 

The visitor is fortunate who leaves no marketable 
impression behind. The literary entertainers eye you 
over, as if they were dealers in a slave mart, and speculate 
on your uses. They try to think how you would do as a 
scoundrel, and mark your little turns of phrase and kinks 
of thought to that end. The innocent visitor bites his 
cake and talks about theatres, while the meditative person 
in the arm-chair may be in imagination stabbing him, or 
starving him on a desert island, or even — horrible to tell ! 
— flinging him headlong into the arms of the young lady to 
the right and " covering her face with a thousand passionate 
kisses." A manuscript in the rough of Euphemia's, that 
I recently suppressed, was an absolutely scandalous ex- 
ample of this method of utilising one's acquaintances. 
Mrs. Harborough, who was indeed Euphemia's most 
confidential friend for six weeks and more, she had made 

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to elope with Scrimgeour — as steady and honourable a 
man as .we know, though unpleasant to Euphemia on 
account of his manner of holding his teacup. I believe 
there really was something — quite harmless, of course — 
between Mrs. Harborough and Scrimgeour, and that, 
imparted in confidence, had been touched up with vivid 
colour here and there and utilised freely. Scrimgeour is 
represented as always holding teacups in his peculiar way, 
so that anyone would recognise him at once. Euphemia calls 
that character. Then Harborough, who is really on excel- 
lent terms with his wife, and, in spite of his quiet manner, 
a very generous and courageous fellow, is turned aside 
from his headlong pursuit of the fugitives across 
Wimbledon Common — they elope, by the bye, on Scrini- 
geour's tandem bicycle — by the fear of being hit by a golf 
ball. I pointed out to Euphemia that these things were 
calculated to lose us friends, and she promises to destroy 
the likeness; but I have no confidence in her promise. 
She will probably clap a violent auburn wig on Mrs. 
Harborough and make Scrimgeour squint and give 
Harborough a big beard. The point that she won't grasp 
is, that with that fatal facility for detail, which is one of 
the most indisputable proofs of woman's intellectual in- 
feriority, she has reproduced endless remarks and manner- 
isms of these excellent people with more than photographic 
fidelity. But this is really a private trouble, though it 
illustrates very well the shameless way in which those 
who have the literary taint will bring to market .thore- / v 
most intimate affairs. 

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I do not know if you remember your " dates." Indeed, I 
do not know if anyone does. My own memory is of a 
bridge ; like that bridge of Goldsmith's, standing firm and 
clear on its hither piers and then passing into a cloud. 
In the beginning of days was " William the Conqueror, 
1066," and the path lay safe and open to Henry the 
Second ; then came Titanic forms of kings, advancing and 
receding, elongating and dwindling, exchanging dates, 
losing dates, stealing dates from battles and murders and 
great enactments— even inventing dates, vacant years that 
were really no dates at all. The things I have suffered — 
prisons, scourgings, beating with rods, wild masters, in 
bounds often, a hundred lines often, standing on forms 
and holding out books often — on account of these dates ! 
I knew, and knew well before I was fifteen, what these 
" heredity " babblers are only beginning to discover — that 
the past is the curse of the present. But I never knew 
my dates — never. And I marvel now that all little boys 
do not grow up to be Republicans, seeing how much they 
suffer for the mere memory of Kings. 

Then there were pedigrees, and principal parts and 
conjugations, and county towns. Every county had a 
county town, and it was always on a river. Mr. Sandsome 
never allowed us a town without that colophon. I 
remember in my early manhood going to Guildford on the 
Wey, and trying to find that unobtrusive rivulet. I went 
over the downs for miles. It is not only the Wey I have 
had a difficulty in finding. There are certain verses — 
Heaven help me, but I have forgotten them ! — about " i 



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vel e dat " {was it dat ?) " utrum malis " — if I remember 
rightly — and all that about amo, amas, amat. There was 
a multitude of such things I acquired, and they lie now, 
in the remote box-rooms and lumber recesses of my mind, 
a rusting armoury far gone in decay. I have never been 
able to find a use for them. I wonder even now why Mr. 
Sandsome equipped me with them. Yet he seemed to be 
in deadly earnest about this learning, and I still go in 
doubt. In those early days he impressed me, chiefly in 
horizontal strips, with the profoundest respect for his 
mental and physical superiority. I credited him then, 
and still incline to believe he deserved to be credited, with 
a sincere persuasion that unless I learnt these things I 
should assuredly go — if I may be frank — to the devil. It so. I may be living in a fool's paradise, prosper- 
ing — like that wicked man the Psalmist disliked. Some 
unsuspected gulf may open, some undreamt-of danger 
thrust itself through the phantasmagoria of the universe, 
and I may learn too late the folly of forgetting my 

I remember Mr. Sandsome chiefly as sitting at his desk, 
in a little room full of boys, a humming hive whose air 
was thick with dust, as the slanting sunbeams showed. 
When we were not doing sums or writing copies, we were 
always learning or saying lessons. In the early morning 
Mr. Sandsome sat erect and bright, his face animated, 
his ruddy eyes keen and observant, the cane hanging but 
uncertainly upon its hook. There was a standing up of 
classes, a babble of repetition, now and then a crisis. How 
long the days were then ! I have heard that scientific 
people — Professor C. Darwin is their leader, unless I err 
— which probably I do, for names and dates I have hated 
from my youth up — say the days grow longer. Anyhow, 
whoever says it, it is quite wrong. But as the lank hours 
of that vast schooltime drawled on, Mr. Sandsome lost 
energy, drooped like a flower, — especially if the day was 
at all hot, — his sandy hair became dishevelled, justice 
became nerveless, hectic, and hasty. Finally came copy- 
books ; and yawns and weird rumblings from Mr. Sandsome. 
And so the world aged to the dinner-hour. 

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When I had been home — it was a day school, for my 
aunt, who had an appetite for such things, knew that 
boarding-schools were sinks of iniquity — and returned, I 
had Mr. Sandsome at another phase. He had dined — for 
we were simple country folk. The figurative suggestions 
of that " phase " are irresistible — the lunar quality. May 
I say that Mr. Sandsome was at his full ? We now stood 
up, thirty odd of us altogether, to read, reading out of 
books in a soothing monotone, and he sat with his reading- 
book before him, ruddy as the setting sun, and slowly, 
slowly settling down. But now and then he would jerk 
back suddenly into staring wakefulness as though he were 
fishing — with himself as bait — f or schoolboy crimes in the 
waters of oblivion — and fancied a nibble. That was a 
dangerous time, full of anxiety. At last he went right 
under and slept, and the reading grew cheerful, full of 
quaint glosses and unexpected gaps, leaping playfully from 
boy to boy, instead of travelling round with a proper 
decorum. But it never ceased, and little Hurkley's silly 
little squeak of a voice never broke in upon its mellow 
flow. (It took a year for Hurkley's voice to break.) Any 
such interruption and Mr. Sandsome woke up and into his 
next phase forthwith — a disagreeable phase always, and 
one we made it our business to postpone as long as 

During that final period, the last quarter, Mr. Sandsome 
was distinctly malignant. It was hard to do right; 
harder still to do wrong. A feverish energy usually 
inspired our government. " Let us try to get some work 
done," Mr. Sandsome would say — and I have even known 
him teach things then. More frequently, with a needless 
bitterness, he set us upon impossible tasks, demanding a 
colossal tale of sums perhaps, scattering pens and paper 
and sowing the horrors of bookkeeping, or chastising us 
with the scorpions of parsing and translation. And even 
in wintry weather the little room grew hot and stuffy, and 
we terminated our schoolday, much exhausted, with minds 
lax, lounging attitudes, and red ears. What became of 
Mr. Sandsome after the giving-out of home-work, the 
concluding prayer, and the aftermath of impositions, I do 


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not know. I stuffed my books, such as came to hand — 
very dirty they were inside, and very neat out with my 
Aunt Charlotte's chintz covers — into my green baize bag, 
and went forth from the mysteries of schooling into the 
great world, up the broad white road that went slanting 
over the Down. 

I say "the mysteries of schooling" deliberately. I 
wondered then, I wonder still, what it was all for. Read- 
ing, almost my only art, I learnt from Aunt Charlotte ; a 
certain facility in drawing I acquired at home and took to 
school, to my own undoing. " Undoing," again, is deliber- 
ate — it was no mere swish on the hand, gentle reader. 
But the things I learnt, more or less partially, at school, 
lie in my mind, like the " Sarsen " stones of Wiltshire — 
great, disconnected, time-worn chunks amidst the natural 
herbage of it. " The Rivers of the East Coast ; the Tweed, 
the Tyne, the Wear, the Tees, the Humber " — why is that, 
for instance, sticking up among my ferns and wild flowers ? 
It is not only useless but misleading, for the Humber is 
not another Tweed. I sometimes fancy the world may be 
mad — yet that seems egotistical. The fact remains that 
for the greater part of my young life Mr. Sandsome got an 
appetite upon us from nine till twelve, and digested his 
dinner, at first placidly and then with petulance, from two 
until five — and we thirty odd boys were sent by our 
twenty odd parents to act as a sort of chorus to his 
physiology. And he was fed (as I judge) more than 
sufficiently, clothed, sheltered, and esteemed on account of 
this relation. I think, after all, there must have been 
something in that schooling. I can't believe the world 
mad. And I have forgotten it — or as good as forgotten it 
— all ! At times I feel a wild impulse to hunt up all those 
chintz-covered books, and brush up my dates and 
paradigms, before it is too late. 

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"I am beginning life," he said, with a sigh. "Great 
Heavens! I have spent a day — a day/ — in a shop. 
Three bedroom suites and a sideboard are among the 
unanticipated pledges of our affection. Have you lithia ? 
For a man of twelve limited editions this has been a 
terrible day." 

I saw to his creature comforts. His tie was hanging 
outside his waistcoat, and his complexion was like white 
pasteboard that has got wet. " Courage," said I. " It 
will not occur again " 

" It will," said he. " We have to get there again to- 
morrow. We have — what is it ? — carpets, curtains " 

He produced his tablets. I was amazed. Those 
receptacles of choice thoughts! 

" The amber sunlight splashing through The leaky — 
leafy interlacing green," he read. "No! — that's not it. 
Ah, here ! Curtains ! Drawing-room — not to cost more 
than thirty shillings ! And there's all the Kitchen Hard- 
ware ! (Thanks.) Dining-room chairs — query — rush 
bottoms ? What's this ? G. L. I. S.— ah ! " Glistering 
thro' deeps of glaucophane " — that's nothing. Mem. to see 
can we afford Indian needlework chairs — 57s. 6d. ? It's 
dreadful, Bellows!" 

He helped himself to a cigarette. 

" Find the salesman pleasant ? " said I. 

" Delightful. Assumed I was a spendthrift millionaire 
at first. Produced in an off-hand way an eighty-guinea 
bedroom suite — we're trying to do the entire busine 
you know, on about two hundred pounds. Well — thatls 
ten editions, you know. Came down, with evidently 
dwindling respect, to things that were still ruinousll 


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expensive. I told him we wanted an idyll — love in a 
cottage, and all that kind of thing. He brushed that on 
one side, said idols were upstairs in the Japanese Depart- 
ment, and that perhaps we might do with a servant's set 
of bedroom furniture. Do with a set ! He was a gloomy 
man with (I should judge) some internal pain. I tried to 
tell him that there was quite a lot of middle-class people 
like myself in the country, people of limited or precarious 
means, whose existence he seemed to ignore ; assured him 
some of them led quite beautiful lives. But he had no 
ideas beyond wardrobes. I quite forgot the business of 
shopping in an attempt to kindle a little human enthusi- 
asm in his heart. We were in a great vast place full of 
wardrobes, with a remote glittering vista of brass bedsteads 
— skeleton beds, you know — and I tried to inspire him 
with some of the poetry of his emporium ; tried to make 
him imagine these beds and things going east and west, 
north and south, to take sorrow, servitude, joy, worry, 
failing strength, restless ambition in their impartial 
embraces. He only turned round to Annie, and asked 
her if she thought she could do with ' enamelled.' But I 

was quite taken with my idea Where is it ? I left 

Annie to settle with this misanthrope, amidst his raw 
frameworks of the Homes of the Future." 

He fumbled with his tablets. " Mats for hall — not to 
exceed 3s. 9d. . . . Kerbs . . . inquire tiled hearth ... Ah ! 
Here we are : ' Ballade of the Bedroom Suite ' : — 

" 'Noble the oak you are now displaying, 

Subtly the hazel's grainings go, 
"Walnut s charm there is no gainsaying, 

Bed as red wine is your rosewood's glow ;- 
Brave and brilliant the ash you show, 

Rich your mahogany's hepatite shine, 
Cool and sweet your enamel : But oh ! 

Where are the wardrobes of Painted Pine t ' 

" They have 'em in the catalogue at five guineas, with a 
picture — quite as- g<*)d they are as the more expensive 
ones. To judge by the picture." 

" But that's scarcely the idea you started with," I 

"Not; it went wrong — ballades often do. The pre- 

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occupation of the ' Painted Pine ' was too much for me. 

What's this? 'N.B. — Sludge sells music stools at ' 

No. Here we are (first half unwritten) : — 

" c White enamelled, like driven snow, 
Picked with just one delicate line. 
Price you were saying is? Fourteen ! — No! 
Where are the wardrobes of Painted Pine t ' 

" Comes round again, you see ! Then I! Envoy : — 

" 'Salesman, sad is the truth I trow : 
Winsome walnut can never be mine. 
Poets are cheap. And their poetry. So 
Where are the wardrobes of Painted Pine t ' 

" Prosaic ! As all true poetry is, nowadays. But, how I 
tired as the afternoon moved on ! At first I was interested 
in the shopman's amazing lack of imagination, and the 
glory of that fond dream of mine — love in a cottage, you 
know — still hung about me. I had ideas come — like that 
Ballade — and every now and then Annie told me to write 
notes. I think my last gleam of pleasure was in choosing 
the drawing-room chairs. There is scope for fantasy in 
chairs. Then " 

He took some more whisky. 

" A kind of grey horror came upon me. I don't know 
if I can describe it. We went through vast vistas of 
chairs, of hall -tables, of machine-made pictures, of 
curtains, huge wildernesses of carpets, and ever this cold, 
unsympathetic shopman led us on, and ever and again 
made us buy this or that. He had a perfectly grey eye — 
the colour of an overcast sky in January — and he seemed 
neither to hate us nor to detest us, but simply to despise 
us, to feel such an overwhelming contempt for our petty 
means and our petty lives, as an archangel might feel for 
an apple-maggot. It made me think. . . ." 

He lit a fresh cigarette. 

" I had a kind of vision. I do not know if you will 
understand. The Warehouse of life, with our Individual 
Fate hurrying each of us through. Showing us with a 
covert sneer all the good things that we cannot afford. A 
magnificent Eosewood love affair, for instance, deep and 

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rich, fitted complete, some hours of perfect life, some acts 
of perfect self-sacrifice, perfect self-devotion. . . . You ask 
the price." 

He shrugged his shoulders. 

" Where are the wardrobes of Painted Pine ? " I quoted. 

" That's it. All the things one might do, if the purse of 
one's courage were not so shallow. H it wasn't for the 
lack of that coinage, Bellows, every man might be 
magnificent. There's heroism, there's such nobility as no 
one has ever attained to, ready to hand. Anyone, if it 
were not for this lack of means, might be a human god 
in twenty-four hours. . . . You see the article. You 
cannot buy it. No one buys it. It stands in the 
emporium, I suppose, for show — on the chance of a 
millionaire. And the shopman waves his hand to it on 
your way to the Painted Pine. 

"Then you meet other couples and solitary people 
going about, each with a gloomy salesman leading. The 
run of them look uncomfortable ; some are hot about the 
ears and in the spiteful phase of ill- temper ; all look sick 
of the business except the raw new-comers. It's the only 
time they will ever select any furniture, their first chance 
and their last. Most of their selections are hurried a 
little. The salesman must not be kept all day. . . . Yet 
it goes hard with you if you buy your Object in Life and 
find it just a ' special line/ made to sell. . . . We're all 
amateurs at living, just as we are all amateurs at 
furnishing — or dying. Some of the poor devils one 
meets carry tattered little scraps of paper, and fumble 
conscientiously with stumpy pencils. It's a comfort to 
see how you go, even if you do have to buy rubbish. ' If 
we have this so good, dear, I don't know how we shall 
manage in the kitchen,' says the careful housewife. . . . 
So it is we do our shopping in the Great Emporium." 

" You will have to rewrite your Ballade," said I, " and 
put all that in." 

" I wish I could," said the poet. 

" And while you were having these very fine moods ? " 

" Annie and the shopman settled most of the furniture 
between them. Perhaps it's just as well. I was never 

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very good at the practical details of life. . . . Cigarette's 
out ! Have you any more matches ? " 

" Horribly depressed you are ! " I said. 

" There's to-morrow. Well, well . . . ." 

And then he went off at a tangent to tell me what he 
expected to make by his next volume of poems, and so 
came to the congenial business of running down his 
contemporaries, and became again the cheerful little Poet 
that I know. 


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Dubing the early Victorian revival of chivalry the 
Language of Flowers had some considerable vogue. The 
Borneo of the mutton-chop whiskers was expected to keep 
this delicate symbolism in view, and even to display his 
wit by some dainty conceits in it. An ignorance of the 
code was fraught with innumerable dangers. A sprig of 
lilac was a suggestion, a moss-rosebud pushed the matter, 
was indeed evidence to go to court upon; and unless 
Charlotte parried with white poplar — a by no means 
accessible flower — or apricot blossom, or failing these 
dabbed a cooling dock-leaf at the fellow, he was at her 
with tulip, heliotrope, and honeysuckle, peach-blossom, 
white jonquil, and pink, and a really overpowering and 
suffocating host of attentions. I suppose he got at last 
to three-cornered notes in the vernacular ; and meanwhile 
what could a poor girl do ? There was no downright 
" No ! " in the language of flowers, nothing equivalent to 
"Go away, please," no flower for "Idiot!" The only 
possible defence was something in this way: "Tour 
cruelty causes me sorrow," " Your absence is a pleasure." 
For this, according to the code of Mr. Thomas Miller 
(third edition, 1841, with elegantly coloured plates) you 
would have to get a sweet-pea blossom for Pleasure, 
wormwood for Absence, and indicate Sorrow by the yew, 
and Cruelty by the stinging-nettle. There is always a 
little risk of mixing your predicates in this kind of com- 
munication, and he might, for instance, read that his 
Absence caused you Sorrow, but he could scarcely miss 
the point of the stinging-nettle. That and the gorse 
carefully concealed were about the only gleams of humour 
possible in the language. But then it was the appointed 



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tongue of lovers, and while their sickness is upon them 
they have neither humour nor wit. 

This Mr. Thomas Miller wrote abundant flowers of 
language in his book, and the plates were coloured by- 
hand. By the bye, what a blessed thing colour-printing 
is! These hand-tinted plates, to an imaginative person, 
are about as distressing as any plates can very well be. 
Whenever I look at these triumphs of art over the 
beauties of nature, with all their weary dabs of crimson, 
green, blue, and yellow, I think of wretched, anaemic girls 
fading their youth away in some dismal attic over a 
publisher's, toiling through the whole edition tint by tint, 
and being mocked the while by Mr. Miller's alliterative 
erotics. And they are erotics ! In one place he writes, 
"Beautiful art thou, Broom! on the breezy bosom of 
the be6-haunted heath"; and throughout he buds and 
blossoms into similar delights. He wallows in doves and 
coy toyings and modest blushes, and bowers and meads. 
He always adds, " Wonderful boy ! " to Chatterton's name 
as if it were a university degree (W.B.), and he invariably 
refers to Moore as the Bard of Erin, and to Milton as the 
Bard of Paradise — though Bard of the Bottomless Pit 
would be more appropriate. However, we are not con- 
cerned with Mr. Miller's language so much as with a 
very fruitful suggestion he throws out, that " it is surely 
worth while to trace a resemblance between the flower 
and the emblem it represents " (a turn like that is nothing 
to Mr. Miller) " which shall at least have some show of 
reason in it." 

Come to think of it, there is something singularly 
unreasonable about almost all floral symbolism. There is 
your forget-me-not, pink in the bud, and sapphire in the 
flower, with a fruit that breaks up into four, the very 
picture of inconstancy and discursiveness. Yet your lover, 
with a singular blindness, presents this to his lady when 
they part. Then the white water-lily is supposed to 
represent purity of heart, and, mark you, it is white 
without and its centre is all set about with innumerable 
golden stamens, while in the middle lies, to quote the 
words of that distinguished botanist, Mr. Oliver, " a fleshy 

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disc." Could there be a better type of sordid and 
mercenary deliberation maintaining a fair appearance ? 
The tender apple-blossom, rather than Pretence, is surely 
a reminder of Eden and the fall of love's devotion into 
inflated worldliness. The poppy which flaunts its violent 
colours athwart the bearded corn, and which frets and 
withers like the Second Mrs. Tanqueray so soon as you 
bring it to the shelter of a decent home, is made the 
symbol of Repose. One might almost think Aim6 Martin 
and the other great authorities on this subject wrote in a 
mood of irony. 

The daisy, too, presents you Innocence, " companion of 
the milk-white lamb," Mr. Miller calls it. I am sorry for 
the milk-white lamb. It was one of the earliest discoveries 
of systematic botany that the daisy is a fraud, a com- 
plicated impostor. The daisy is not a flower at ail. It 
is a favourite trap in botanical examinations, a snare for 
artless young men entering the medical profession. Each 
of the little yellow things in the centre of the daisy is 
a flower in itself, — if you look at one with a lens you will 
find it not unlike a cowslip flower, — and the white rays 
outside are a great deal more than the petals they ought 
to be if the Innocence theory is to hold good. There is 
no such thing as an innocent flower ; they are all so many 
deliberate advertisements to catch the eye of the un- 
decided bee, but any flower almost is simpler than this 
one. We would make it the emblem of artistic decep- 
tion, and the confidence trick expert should wear it as 
his crest. 

The violet, again, is a greatly overrated exemplar. It 
stimulates a certain bashfulness, hangs its head, and passed 
as modest among our simple grandparents. Its special 
merit is its perfume, and it pretends to wish to hide that 
from every eye. But, withal, the fragrance is as far-reach- 
ing as any I know. It droops ingenuously. " How could 
you come to me," it seems to say, " when all these really 
brilliant flowers invite you ? " Mere fishing for compli- 
ments. All the while it is being sweet, to the very best 
of its undeniable ability. Then it comes, too, in early 
spring, without a chaperon, and catches our hearts fresh 


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before they are jaded with the crowded beauties of May. 
A really modest flower would wait for the other flowers 
to come first. A subtle affectation is surely a different 
thing from modesty. The violet is simply artful, the 
young widow among flowers, and to hold up such a flower 
as an example is not doing one's duty by the young. For 
true modesty commend me to the agave, which flowers 
once only in half a hundred years, as one may see for 
oneself at the Royal Botanical Gardens. 

Enough has been said to show what scope there is for 
revision of this sentimental Volapuk. Mr. Martin him- 
self scarcely goes so far as I have done, though I have 
merely worked out his suggestion. His only revolutionary 
proposal is to displace the wind star by the M rathe prim- 
rose " for Forsaken, on the strength of a quotation familiar 
to every reader of Mason's little text-book on the English 
languaga For the rest he followed his authorities, and 
has followed them now to the remote recesses of the 
literary lumber-room and into the twopenny book-box. 
From that receptacle one copy of him was disinterred 
only a day or so ago; a hundred and seventy pages of 
prose, chiefly alliterative, several coloured plates, en- 
thusiastic pencil-marking of a vanished somebody, and, 
besides, an early Victorian flavour of dust and a dim 
vision of a silent conversation in a sunlit flower garden — 
altogether I think very cheap at twopence. The fashion 
has changed altogether now. In these days we season 
our love-making with talk about heredity, philanthropy, 
and sanitation, and present one another with Fabian 
publications instead of wild flowers. But in the end, I 
fancy, the business comes to very much the same thing. 


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At the risk of offending the young beginner's illusions, he 
must be reminded of one or two homely but important 
facts bearing upon literary production. Homely as they 
are, they explain much that is at first puzzling. This 
perplexing question of distinction; the quality of being 
somehow fresh — individual. Really it is a perfectly 
simple matter. It is common knowledge that, after a 
prolonged fast, the brain works in a feeble manner, the 
current of one's thoughts is pallid and shallow, it is 
difficult to fix the attention and impossible to mobilise 
the full forces of the mind. On the other hand, im- 
mediately after a sound meal, the brain feels massive, but 
static. Tea is conducive to a gentle flow of pleasing 
thoughts, and anyone who has taken Easton's syrup of 
the hypophosphites will recall at once the state of cerebral 
erethrism, of general mental alacrity, that followed on 
a dose. Again, champagne (followed perhaps by a soupcjon 
of whisky) leads to a Tnood essentially humorous and 
playful, while about three dozen oysters, taken fasting, 
will in most cases produce a profound and even ominous 
melancholy. One might enlarge further upon this topic, 
on the brutalising influence of beer, the sedative quality 
of lettuce, the stimulating consequences of curried chicken ; 
but enough has been said to point our argument. It is, 
that such facts as this can surely indicate only one 
conclusion, and that is the entire dependence of literary 
qualities upon the diet of the writer. 

I may remind the reader, in confirmation of this 
suggestion, of what is perhaps the most widely known 
fact about Carlyle, that on one memorable occasion he 
threw his breakfast out of the window. Why did he 

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throw his breakfast out of the window? Surely his 
friends have cherished the story out of no petty love of 
depreciatory detail? There are, however, those who 
would have us believe it was mere childish petulance 
at a chilly rasher or a hard-boiled egg. Such a supposition 
is absurd. On the other hand, what is more natural than 
an outburst of righteous indignation at the ruin of some 
carefully studied climax of feeding ? The thoughtful 
literary beginner who is not altogether submerged in 
foolish theories of inspiration and natural genius will, we 
fancy, see pretty clearly that I am developing what is 
perhaps after all the fundamental secret of literary 

To come now to more explicit instructions. It is 
imperative, if you wish to write with any power and 
freshness at all, that you should utterly ruin your 
digestion. Any literary person will confirm this state- 
ment. At any cost the thing must be done, even if you 
have to live on German sausage, onions, and cheese to do 
it. So long as you turn all your dietary to flesh and 
blood you will get no literature out of it. " We learn in 
suffering what we teach in song." This is why men who 
live at home with their mothers, or have their elder sisters 
to see after them, never, by any chance, however great 
their literary ambition may be, write anything but minor 
x poetry. They "get their meals at regular hours, and done 
to a turn, and that plays the very devil — if you will 
pardon the phrase — with one's imagination. 

A careful study of the records of literary men in the 
past, and a considerable knowledge of living authors, 
suggests two chief ways of losing one's digestion and 
engendering literary capacity. You go and live in humble 
lodgings, — we could name dozens of prominent men who 
have fed a great ambition in this way, — or you marry a 
nice girl who does not understand housekeeping. The 
former is the more efficacious method, because, as a rule, 
the nice girl wants to come and sit on your knee all day, 
and that is a great impediment to literary composition. 
Belonging to a club — even a literary club — where you can 
dine is absolute ruin to the literary beginner. Many a 

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bright young fellow, who has pushed his way, or has been 
pushed by indiscreet friends, into the society of successful 
literary men, has been spoilt by this fatal error, aijdrlie 
has saved his stomach to lose his- reputation. 

Having got rid of your digestion, then, the common 
condition of all good literature, the next thing is to 
arrange your dietary for the particular literary effect you 
desire. And here we may point out the secrecy observed 
in such matters by literary men. Stevenson fled to Samoa 
to hide his extremely elaborate methods, and to keep his 
kitchen servants out of the reach of bribery. Even Sir 
Walter Besant, though he is fairly communicative to the 
young aspirant, has dropped no hints of the plain, pure, 
and wholesome menu he follows. Sala professed to eat 
everything, but that was probably his badinage. Possibly 
he had one staple, and took the rest as condiment Then 
what did Shakespeare live on ? Bacon ? And Mr. Barrie, 
though he has written a delightful book about his pipe 
and tobacco, fullof suggestion to the young humorist, 
lets out nothing or next to nothing of his meat and drink. 
His hints about pipes are very extensively followed, and 
nowadays every ambitious young pressman smokes in 
public at least one well-burnt briar with an eccentric 
stem — even at some personal inconvenience. But this 
jealous reticence on the. part of successful men — you 
notice they never let even the interviewer see their 
kitchens or the debris of a meal — necessarily throws one 
back upon rumour and hypothesis in this matter. Mr. 
Andrew Lang, for instance, is popularly associated with 
salmon, but that is probably a wilful delusion. Excessive 
salmon, far from engendering geniality, will be found in 
practice a vague and melancholy diet, tending more 
towards the magnificent despondency of Mr. Hall 

Nor does Mr. Haggard feed entirely on raw meat. 
Indeed, for lurid and somewhat pessimistic narrative, 
there is nothing like the ordinary currant bun, eaten new 
and in quantity. A light humorous style is best attained 
by soda-water and dry biscuits, following caf^-noir. The 
soda-water may be either Scotch or Irish as the taste 


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inclines. For a florid, tawdry style the beginner must 
take nothing but boiled water, stewed vegetables, and an 
"ftflberest in the movements against vivisection, opium, 
alcohol tobacco, sarcophagy, and the male sex. 

For -contributions to the leading reviews, boiled pork 
and cabbage may be eaten, with bottled beer, followed 
by apple dumpling. This effectually suppresses any 
tendency to factiousness, or what respectable English 
people call double entendre, and brings you en rapport with 
the serious people who read these publications. So soon 
as you begin to feel wakeful and restless discontinue 
writing. For what is vulgarly known as the fin-de-si&cle 
type of publication, on the other hand, one should limit 
oneself to an aerated bread shop for a week or so, with 
the exception of an occasional tea in a literary household. 
All people fed mainly on scones become clever. And 
this regimen, with an occasional debauch upon macaroons, 
chocolate, and cheap champagne, and brisk daily walks 
from Oxford Circus, through Regent Street, Piccadilly, 
and the Green Park, to Westminster and back, should 
result in an animated society satire. 

It is not known what Mr. Kipling takes to make him 
so peculiar. Many of us would like to know. Possibly 
it is something he picked up in the jungle — berries or 
something. A friend who made a few tentative experi- 
ments to this end turned out nothing beyond a will, and 
that he dictated and left incomplete. (It was scarcely 
on the lines of an ordinary will, being blasphemous, and 
mentioning no property except his inside.) For short 
stories of the detective type, strong cold tea and hard 
biscuits are fruitful eating, while for a social science 
novel one should take an abundance of boiled rice and 
toast and water. 

However, these remarks are mainly by way of suggestion. 
Every writer in the end, so soon as his digestion is 
destroyed, must ascertain for himself the peculiar diet 
that suits him best — that is, which disagrees with him 
the most. If everything else fails he might try some 
chemical food. " Jabber's Food for Authors," by the bye, 
well advertised, and with portraits of literary men, in 


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their drawing-rooms, "Fed entirely on Jabber's Food," 
with medical certificates of its unwholesomeness, and 
favourable and expurgated reviews of works written on 
it, ought to be a brilliant success among literary aspirants. 
A small but sufficient quantity of arsenic might with 
advantage be mixed in. 


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Since Adam and Eve went hand in hand out of the gates 
of Paradise, the world has travailed under an infinite 
succession of house-hunts. To-day in every eligible 
suburb you may see New Adams and New Eves by the 
score, with rusty keys and pink order-forms in hand, 
wandering still, in search of the ideal home. To them 
it is anything but an amusement. Most of these poor 
pilgrims look simply tired, some are argumentative in 
addition, but all are disappointed, anxious, and unhappy, 
their hands dirty with prying among cisterns, and their 
garments soiled from cellar walls. All, in the exaltation 
of the wooing days, saw at least the indistinct reflection 
of the perfect house, but now the Quest is irrevocably in 
hand they seek and do not find. And such a momentous 
question it is to them. Are they not choosing the back- 
ground, the air and the colour, as it were, of the next 
three or four years, the cardinal years, too ! of their lives ? 
Perhaps the exquisite exasperation of the business for 
the man who hunts among empty houses for a home is, 
that it is so entirely a choice of second-hand, or at least 
ready-made goods. To me, at least, there is a decided 
suggestion of the dead body in your empty house that 
has once been occupied. Here, like pale ghosts upon the 
wall paper, are outlined the pictures of the departed 
tenant ; here are the nails of the invisible curtains, this 
dent in the wall is all that is sensible of a vanished 
piano. I could fancy all these things creeping back to 
visibility as the light grew dim. Someone was irritable 
in the house, perhaps, and a haunting fragrance of de- 


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parted quarrels is to be found in the loose door-handles, 
and the broken bell-pull. Then the blind in the bedroom 
has a broken string. He was a beer-drinker, for the drip 
of the tap has left its mark in the cellar ; a careless man, 
for this wall is a record of burst water-pipes ; and rough 
in. his methods, as his emendation of the garden gate — a 
remedy rather worse than the disease — shows. The mark 
of this prepotent previous man is left on the house from 
cellar to attic. It is his house really, not mine. And 
against these haunting individualities set the horrible 
wholesale flavour, the obvious dexterous builder's economies 
of a new house. Yet, whatever your repulsion may be, 
the end is always the same. After you have asked for 
your ideal house a hundred times or so you begin to see 
you do not get it. You go the way of your kind. All 
houses are taken in despair. 

But such disgusts as this are for the man who really 
aims at taking a house. The artist house-hunter knows 
better than that. He hunts for the hunt's sake, and does 
not mar his work *with a purpose. Then house-hunting 
becomes a really delightful employment, and one strangely 
neglected in this country. I have heard, indeed, of old 
ladies who enlivened the intervals of their devotions in 
this manner, but to the general run of people the thing is 
unknown. Yet a more entertaining way of spending a 
half-holiday — having regard to current taste — it should 
be difficult to imagine. An empty house is realistic 
literature in the concrete, full of hints and allusions if a 
little wanting in tangible humanity, and it outdoes the 
modern story in its own line, by beginning as well as 
ending in a note of interrogation. That it is not more 
extensively followed I can only explain by supposing 
that its merits are generally unsuspected. In which case 
this book should set a fashion. 

One singular thing the house -hunter very speedily 
discovers is, that the greater portion of the houses in this 
country are owned by old gentlemen or old ladies who 
live next door. After a certain age, and especially upon 
retired tradespeople, house property, either alone or in 
common with gardening, exercises an irresistible fascina- 


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tion. You always know you are going to meet a landlord 
or landlady of this type when you read on your order to 
view, " Key next door but one." Calling next door but 
one, you are joined after the lapse of a few minutes by a 
bald, stout gentleman, or a lady of immemorial years, who 
offers to go over " the property " with you. Apparently 
the intervals between visits to view are spent in slumber, 
and these old people come out refreshed and keen to 
scrutinise their possible new neighbours. They will tell 
you all about the last tenant, and about the present tenants 
on either side, and about themselves, and how all the other 
houses in the neighbourhood are damp, and how they 
remember when the site of the house was a cornfield, and 
what they do for their rheumatism. As one hears them 
giving a most delightful vent to their loquacity, the artistic 
house -hunter feels all the righteous self - applause of a 
kindly deed. Sometimes they get extremely friendly. 
One old gentleman — to whom anyone under forty must 
have seemed puerile — presented the gentle writer with 
three fine large green apples as a kind of earnest of his 
treatment: apples, no doubt, of some little value, since 
they excited the audible envy of several little boys before 
they were disposed of. 

Sometimes the landlord has even superintended the 
building of the house himself, and then it often has 
peculiar distinctions — no coal cellar, or a tower with 
turrets, or pillars of ornamental marble investing the 
portico with disproportionate dignity. One old gentle- 
man, young as old gentlemen go, short of stature, of an 
agreeable red colour, and with short iron-grey hair, had a 
niche over the front door containing a piece of statuary. 
It gave one the impression of the Venus of Milo in 
chocolate pyjamas. " It was nood at first," said the land- 
lord, " but the neighbourhood is hardly educated up to 
art, and objected. So I gave it that brown paint." 

On one expedition the artistic house-hunter was accom- 
panied by Euphemia. Then it was he found Hill Crest, a 
vast edifice at the incredible* rent of £40 a year, with 
which a Megatherial key was identified. It took the two 
of them, not to mention an umbrella, to turn this key. 


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The rent was a mystery, and while they were in the 
house — a thunderstorm kept them there some time — they 
tried to imagine the murder. From the top windows 
they could see the roofs of the opposite houses in plan. 

" I wonder how long it would take to get to the top of 
the house from the bottom ? " said Euphemia. 

"Certainly longer than we could manage every day," 
said the artistic house-hunter. "Fancy looking for my 
pipe in all these rooms. Starting from the top bedroom 
at the usual time, I suppose one would arrive downstairs 
to breakfast about eleven, and then we should have to be 
getting upstairs again by eight o'clock if we wanted any 
night's rest worth having. Or we might double or treble 
existence, live a Gargantuan life to match the house, make 
our day of forty-eight hours instead of twenty-four. By 
doubling everything we should not notice the hole it made 
in our time getting about the place. Perhaps by making 
dinner last twice as long, eating twice as much, and doing 
every^ing on the scale of two to one, we might adapt 
ourselves to our environment in time, grow twice as big." 

"Then we might be very comfortable here," said 

They went downstairs again. By that time it was 
thundering and raining heavily. The rooms were dark 
and gloomy. The big side door, which would not shut 
unless locked from the outside, swayed and banged as the 
gusts of wind swept round the house. But they had a 
good time in the front kitchen, playing cricket with an 
umbrella and the agent's order crumpled into a ball. 
Presently the artistic house-hunter lifted Euphemia on 
to the tall dresser, and they sat there swinging their feet 
patiently until the storm should leave off and release 

" I should feel in this kitchen," said Euphemia, " like 
one of my little dolls must have felt in the dolls'-house 
kitchen I had once. The top of her head just reached the 
level of the table. There were only four plates on the 
dresser, but each was about half her height across " 

" Your reminiscences are always entertaining," said the 
artistic house-hunter; "still they fail to explain the 

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absorbing mystery of this house being to let at £40 a 
year." The problem raised his curiosity, but though he 
made inquiries he found no reason for the remarkably low 
rent or the continued emptiness of the house. It was a 
specimen puzzle for the house - hunter. A large house 
with a garden of about half an acre, and with accommoda- 
tion for about six families, going begging for £40 a year. 
Would it let at eighty ? Some such problem, however, 
turns up in every house-hunt, and it is these surprises 
that give the sport its particular interest and delight. 
Always provided the mind is not unsettled by any ulterior 
notion of settling down. 


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The Blade is not so much a culture as a temperament, and 
Bladery — if the thing may have the name — a code of 
sentiments rather than a ritual. It is the rococo school 
of behaviour, the flamboyant gentleman, the gargoyle life. 
The Blade is the tribute innocence pays to vice. He may 
look like a devil and belong to a church. And the 
clothing of the Blade, being symbolical, is a very important 
part of him. It must show not only a certain tastiness, 
but also decision in the accent, courage in the pattern, and 
a Dudley Hardihood of outline. A Blade must needs 
take the colour of his social standing, but all Blades have 
the same essential qualities. And all Blades have this 
quality, that they despise and contemn other Blades from 
the top downward. (But where the bottommost Blade 
comes no man can tell.) 

A well-bred Blade — though he be a duke — tends to 
wear his hat tilted a little over the right eyebrow, and a 
piece of hair is pulled coquettishly down just below the 
brim. His collar is high, and a very large bow is worn 
slightly askew. This may be either cream-coloured or 
deep blue, with spots of white, or it may be red, or buff, 
but not green, because of badinage. The Blade of the 
middle class displays a fine gold watch-chain, and his jacket 
and vest may be of a rough black cloth or blue serge. 
The trousering may be of a suit with the jacket, or 
tasteful, and the shoes must be long. The betting man, 
adorned, is a perfect Blade. There is often a large and 
ornamental stick, which is invariably carried head down- 
wards. And note, that the born Blade instinctively 
avoids any narrowness of pose. In walking he thrusts 
out his shoulders, elbows, and knees, and it is rather the 



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thing to dominate a sphere of influence beyond this by 
swinging his stick. At first the beginner will find this 
weapon a little apt to slip from the hand and cause 
inconvenience to the general public; but he must not 
mind that After a few such misadventures he will 
acquire dexterity. 

All Blades smoke — publicly at least. To smoke a 
white meerschaum in the streets, however, is very inferior 
form. The proper smoking is a briar, and, remember, it 
is not smart to have a new pipe. So soon as he buys it, 
the Blade takes his pipe home, puts it on a glowing fire 
to burn the rim, scrapes this away, burns it again, and so 
on until it looks a sullen desperado of a pipe — a pipe with 
a wild past. Sometimes he cannot smoke a pipe. In 
this case he may — for his stomach's sake — smoke a 
cigarette. And, besides, there is something cynical about 
a cigarette. For the very young Blade there are certain 
makes of cigarette that burn well — they are mixed with 
nitre — and these may be smoked by holding them in the 
left hand and idly swinging them to and fro in the air. 
If it were not for the public want of charity, I would 
recommend a well-known brand. A Blade may always 
escape a cigar by feigning a f astidious taste. " None of 
your Cabanas " is rather good style. 

The Blade, it must be understood — especially by the 
Blade's friends — spends his time in a whirl of dissipation. 
That is the symbolism of the emphatic obliquity of the 
costume. First, he drinks. The Blade at Harrow, accord- 
ing to a reliable authority, drinks cherry brandy and even 
champagne ; other Blades consume whisky-and-soda ; the 
less costly kind of Blade does it on beer. And here the 
beginner is often at a loss. Let us say he has looked up 
the street and down, ascertained that there are no aunts 
in the air, and then plunged into his first public-house. 
How shall he ask for his liquor ? "I will take a glass of 
ale, if you please, Miss," seems tame for a Blade. It may 
be useful to know a more suitable formula. Just at 
present, we may assure the Blade neophyte, it is all the 
rage to ask for " Two of swipes, ducky." Go in boldly, 
bang down your money as loudly as possible, and shout 

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that out at the top of your voice. If it is a barman, 
though, you had better not say " ducky." The slang will, 
we can assure him, prove extremely effective. 

Then the Blade gambles ; but over the gambling of the 
Blade it is well to draw a veil — a partially translucent 
and coquettish veil, through which we can see the thing 
dimly, and enhanced in its enormity. You must patronise 
the Turf, of course, and have money on horses, or you are 
no Blade at all, but a mere stick. The Harrow Blade has 
his book on all the big races in the calendar; and the 
great and noble game of Nap— are not Blades its wor- 
shippers wherever the sun shines and a pack of cards is 
obtainable? Baccarat, too. Many a glorious Blade has 
lost his whole term's pocket-money at a single sitting at 
that noble game. And the conversation of the Blade 
must always be brilliant in the extreme, like the flashing 
of steel in the sunlight. It is usually cynical and worldly, 
sometimes horrible enough to make a governess shudder, 
but always epigrammatic. Epigrams and neat comparisons 
are much easier to make than is vulgarly supposed. 
" Schoolmasters hang about the crops of knowledge like 
dead crows about a field, examples and warnings to greedy 
souls." " Marriage is the beginning of philosophy, and 
the end is, ' Do not marry/ " " All women are constant, 
but some discover mistakes." "One is generally repentant 
when .one is found out, and remorseful when one can't do 
it again." A little practice, and this kind of thing may 
be ground out almost without thinking. Occasionally, in 
your conversation with ladies, you may let an oath slip. 
(Better not let your aunt hear you.) Apologise humbly 
at once, of course. But it will give them a glimpse of the 
lurid splendour of your private life. 

And that brings us to the central thing of the Blade's 
life, the eternal Feminine ! Pity them, be a little sorry for 
them — the poor souls cannot be Blades. They must e'en 
sit and palpitate while the Blade flashes. The accomplished 
Blade goes through life looking unspeakable wickedness 
at everything feminine he meets, old and young, rich and 
poor, one with another. He reeks with intrigue. Every 
Blade has his secrets and mysteries in this matter — remorse 

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even for crimes. You do not know all that his handsome 
face may hide. Even he does not know. He may have 
sat on piers and talked to shop-girls, kissed housemaids, 
taken barmaids to music halls, conversed with painted 
wickedness in public places — nothing is too much for him. 
And oh ! the reckless protestations of love he has made, 
the broken promises, the broken hearts ! Yet men must 
be Blades, though women may weep; and every Blade 
must take his barmaid to a music hall at least once, even 
if she be taller than himself. Until then his manhood is 
not assured. 

Just one hint in conclusion. A Blade who collects 
stamps, or keeps tame rabbits, or eats sweets, oranges, or 
apples in the streets, or calls names publicly after his 
Mends, is no Blade at all, but a boy still. So, with our 
blessing, he swaggers on his way and is gone. A Don 
Juan as fresh as spring, a rosebud desperado. May he 
never come upon just cause for repentance ! 

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Apropos of one crichton 

Crichton is an extremely clever person — abnormally, 
indeed almost unnaturally, so. He is not merely clever 
at this or that, but clever all round; he gives you no 
consolations. He goes about being needlessly brilliant. 
He caps your jests and corrects your mistakes, and does 
your special things over again in newer and smarter ways. 
Any really well-bred man who presumed so far would at 
least be plain or physically feeble, or unhappily married 
by way of apology, but the idea of so much civility seems 
never to have entered Crichton's head. He will come 
into a room where we are jesting perhaps, and 
immediately begin to flourish about less funny perhaps 
but decidedly more brilliant jests, until at last we retire 
one by one from the conversation and watch him with 
savage, weary eyes over our pipes. He invariably beats 
me at chess, invariably. People talk about him and ask 
my opinion of him, and if I venture to criticise him they 
begin to look as though they thought I was jealous. 
Grossly favourable notices of his books and his pictures 
crop up in the most unlikely places; indeed I have 
almost given up newspapers on account of him. Yet, 

after all 

This cleverness is not everything. It never pleases 
me, and I doubt sometimes if it pleases anyone. 
Suppose you let off some clever little thing, a subtlety of 
expression, a paradox, an allusive suggestive picture; 
how does it affect ordinary people ? Those who are less 
clever than yourself, the unspecialised, unsophisticated 
average people, are simply annoyed by the puzzle you set 


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them ; those whc> are cleverer find your cleverness mere 
obvious stupidity ; and your equals, your competitors in 
cleverness, are naturally your deadly rivals. The fact is 
this cleverness, after all, is merely egotism in its worst 
and un wisest phase. It is an incontinence of brilliance, 
graceless and aggressive, a glaring swagger. The drunken 
helot of cleverness is the creature who goes about making 
puns. A mere step above comes the epigram, the isolated 
epigram framed and glazed. Then such impressionist art 
as Crichton's pictures, mere puns in paint. What they 
mean is nothing, they arrest a quiet decent-minded man 
like myself with the same spasmodic disgust as a pun in 
literature — the subject is a transparent excuse ; they are 
mere indecent and unedifying exhibitions of himself. He 
thinks it is something superlative to do everything in a 
startling way. He cannot even sign his name without 
being offensive. He lacks altogether the fundamental 
quality of a gentleman, the magnanimity to be common- 
place. I 

On the score of personal dignity, why should a young 
man of respectable antecedents and some natural capacity 
stoop to this kind of thing? To be clever is the last 
desperate resort of the feeble, it is the merit of the 
ambitious* slave. You cannot conquer vi et armis, you 
cannot stomach a decent inferiority, so you resort to lively, 
eccentric, and brain-wearying brilliance to ingratiate 
yourself. The cleverest animal by far is the monkey, and 
compare that creature's undignified activity with the 
mountainous majesty of the elephant ! 

And I cannot help thinking, too, that cleverness must 
be the greatest obstacle a man can possibly have in his 
way upward in the world. One never sees really clever 
p/eople in positions of trust, never widely influential or 
deeply rooted. Look, for instance, at the Royal Academy, 

at the Judges, at But there! The very idea of 

cleverness is an all-round readiness and looseness that is 
the very negation of stability. 

Whenever Orichton has been particularly exasperating, 
getting himself appreciated in a new quarter, or rising 
above his former successes, I find some consolation in 

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thinking of my Uncle Augustus. He was the glory of our 
family. Even Aunt Charlotte's voice drooped a little in 
the mention of his name. He was conspicuous for an 
imposing and even colossal stupidity : he rose to eminence 
through it, and, what is more, to wealth and influence. 
He was as reliable, as unlikely to alter his precise position, 
or do anything unexpected, as the Pyramids of Egypt. 
I do not know any topic upon which he was not 
absolutely uninformed, and his contributions to con- 
versation, delivered in that ringing baritone of his, 
were appallingly dull. Often I have seen him utterly 
flatten some cheerful clever person of the Crichton type 
with one of his simple garden-roller remarks — plain, solid, 
and heavy, which there was no possibility either of meet- 
ing or avoiding. He was very successful in argument, and 
yet he never fenced. He simply came down. It was, so 
to speak, a case of small sword versus the avalanche. His 
moral inertia was tremendous. He was never excited, 
never anxious, never jaded; he was simply massive. 
Cleverness broke upon him like shipping on an ironbound 
coast. His monument is like him — a plain large obelisk 
of coarse granite, unpretending in its simple ugliness and 
prominent a mile off. Among the innumerable little 
white sorrows of the cemetery it looks exactly as he used 
to look among clever people. 

Depend upon it cleverness is the antithesis of greatness. 
The British Empire, like the Eoman, was built up by dull 
men. It may be we shall be ruined by clever ones. 
Imagine a regiment of lively and eccentric privates! 
There never was a statesman yet who had not some 
ballast of stupidity, and it seems to me that part at least 
of the essentials of a genius is a certain divine dulness. 
The people we used to call the masters — Shakespeare, 
Raphael, Milton, and so forth — had a certain simplicity 
Crichton lacks. They do not scintillate nearly so much 
as he does, and they do not give that same uncom- 
fortable feeling of internal strain. Even Homer nods. 
There are restful places in their work, broad meadows 
of breezy flatness, calms. But Crichton has no Pacific 
Ocean to mitigate his everlasting weary passage of 


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Cape Horn: it is all point and prominence, point and 

No doubt this Crichton is having a certain vogue now, 
but it cannot last. I wish him no evil, of course, but I 
cannot help thinking he will presently have had his day. 
This epoch of cleverness must be very near its last flare. 
The last and the abiding thought of humanity is peace. 
A dull man will presently be sought like the shadow of 
a great rock in a thirsty land. Dulness will be the New 
Genius. " Give us dull books," people will cry, " great 
dull restful pictures. We are weary, very weary." This 
hectic, restless, incessant phase in which we travail— -fin- 
de-sikcle, "decadent," and all the rest of it — will pass 
away. A chubby, sleepy literature, large in aim, colossal 
in execution, rotund and tranquil will lift its head. And 
this Crichton will become a classic, Messrs. Mudie will 
sell surplus copies of his works at a reduction, and I shall 
cease to be worried by his disgusting success. 


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I watched the little spurts, of flame jet out from between 
the writhing pages of my manuscript, watched the sheets 
coil up in their fiery anguish and start one from another. 
I helped the fire to the very vitals of the mass by poking 
the brittle heap, and at last the sacrifice was over, the 
flames turned from pink to blue and died out, the red 
glow gave place to black, little luminous red streaks coiled 
across the charred sheets and vanished at the margins, 
and only the ashes of my inspiration remained. The ink 
was a lustrous black on the dull blackness of the burnt 
paper. I could still read this much of my indiscretion 
remaining, " He smiled at them all and said nothing/ 1 

" Fool ! " I said, and stirred the crackling mass into a 
featureless heap of black scraps. Then with my chin on 
my fists and elbows on knees I stared at the end of my 

I suppose, after all, there has been some profit out of 
the thing. Satan finds some mischief still for idle hands 
to do, and one may well thank Heaven it was only a 
novel. Still, it means many days out of my life, and I 
would be glad to find some positive benefit accruing. 
Clearly, in the first place, I have eased my mind of some 
execrable English. I am cleaner now by some dozen 
faulty phrases that I committed and saw afterwards in all 
the nakedness of typewriting. (Thank Heaven for type- 
writing! Were it not for that, this thing had gone to 
the scoffing of some publisher's reader, and another had 
known my shame.) And I shall not write another pose 

I am inclined to think these pose novels the wild oats 
of authorship. We sit down in the heyday of our youth 



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to write the masterpiece. Obviously, it must be a novel 
about a man and a woman, and something as splendid as 
we can conceive of in that way. We look about us. We 
do not go far for perfection. One of the brace holds the 
pen and the other is inside his or her head ; and so Off! 
to the willing pen. Only a few years ago we went 
slashing among the poppies with a walking-stick, and 
were, we said boldly and openly, Harolds and Hectors 
slaying our thousands. Now of course we are grown up 
to self-respect, and must needs be a little disingenuous 
about it. But as the story unfolds there is no mistaking 
the likeness, in spite of the transfiguration. This bold, 
decided man who performs such deeds of derring-do in 
the noisome slum, knocks down the burly wife-beater, 
rescues an unmistakable Miss Clapton from the knife of a 
Lascar, and is all the while cultivating a virtuous con- 
sumption that stretches him on an edifying, pathetic, and 

altogether beautiful deathbed in the last chapter 

My dear Authorling, cry my friends, we hear the squeak 
of that little voice of yours in every word he utters. Is 
that what you aspire to be, that twopence-coloured edition 
of yourself ? Heaven defend you from your desires ! 

Yet there was a singular fascination in writing the 
book ; to be in anticipation my own sympathetic historian, 
to joy with my joys yet to come, and sorrow with my 
sorrows, to bear disaster like a man, and at last to close 
my own dear eyes, and with a swelling heart write my 
own epitaph. The pleasure remained with me until I 
reached the end. How admirably I strutted in front of 
myself! And I and the better self of me that was 
flourishing about in the book — we pretended not to know 
each other for what we were. He was myself with a wig 
and a sham visiting card, and I owed it to myself to 
respect my disguise. I made him with very red hair — 
my hair is fairly dark — and shifted his university from 
London to Cambridge. Clearly it could not be the same 
person, I argued. But I endowed him with all the 
treasures of myself ; I made him say all the good things 
I might have said had I thought of them opportunely, 
and all the noble thoughts that occurred to me afterwards 

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occurred to him at the time. He was myself — myself 
at a premium, myself without any drawbacks, the quint- 
essence and culmination of me. And yet somehow when 
he came back from the typewriter he seemed a bit of 
an ass. 

Probably every tadpole author writes a pose novel — at 
least I hope so for the sake of my self-respect. Most, 
after my fashion, burn the thing, or benevolent publishers 
lose it. It is an ill thing if by some accident the tadpole 
tale survives the tadpole stage. The authoress does the 
feminine equivalent, but I should judge either that she 
did it more abundantly or else that she burned less. Has 
she never swept past you with a scornful look, disdained 
you in all the pride of her beauty, rippled laughter at 
you, or amazed you with her artless girlishness? And 
even after the early stages some of the trick may survive, 
unless I read books with malice instead of charity. I 
must confess, though, that I have a weakness for finding 
mine author among his puppets. I conceive him always 
taking the best parts, like an actor-manager or a little 
boy playing with his sisters. I do not read many novels 
with sincere belief, and I like to get such entertainment 
from them as I can. So that these artless little self- 
revelations are very sweet and precious to me among all 
the lay figures, tragedy and comedy. Since the deception 
is transparent I make the most of the transparency, and 
love to see the clumsy fingers on the strings of the 
marionettes. And this will be none the less pleasant now 
that I have so narrowly escaped giving this entertainment 
to others. 

I suppose this stage is a necessary one. We begin 
with ignorance and the imagination, the material of the 
pose novel. Later come self-knowledge, disappointments 
and self-consciousness, and the prodigals of fiction stay 
themselves upon the husks of epigram and cynicism, and 
in the place of artless aspiration are indeed in plain black 
and white very desperate characters. It is after all only 
another pose — the pose of not posing. We, the common 
clay of the world of letters, must needs write in this way, 
because we cannot forget our foolish little selves in our 


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fr6 CfefetAlN PERSONAL MAttEfeS 

work. But some few there are who sit as gods above 
their private universes, and write without passion or 
vanity. At least, so I have been told. These be the true 
artists of letters, the white windows upon the truth of 
things. "We by comparison are but stained glass in our 
own honour, and do but obstruct the view with our halos 
and attitudes. Yet even Shakespeare, the critics tell us — 
and they say they know — posed in the character of 

After all, the pose novel method has at times attained 
to the level of literature. Charlotte Bronte might possibly 
have found no other topic had she disdained the plain 
little woman with a shrewish tongue; and where had 
Charles Kingsley been if the vision of a curate rampant 
had not rejoiced his heart? Still, I am not sorry that 
this novel is burned. Even now it was ridiculous, and 
the time might have come when this book, full of high, 
if foolish aims, and the vain vast promise of well-meaning 
youth, had been too keen a reproach to be endured. Three 
volumes of good intentions ! It is too much. There was 
more than a novel burning just now. After this I shall 
be in a position to take a humorist's view of life. 


by Google 


My old cricketer was seized, he says, some score of years 
ago now, by sciatica, clutched indeed about the loins there- 
by, and forcibly withdrawn from the practice of the art ; 
since when a certain predisposition to a corpulent habit 
has lacked its natural check of exercise, and a broadness 
almost Dutch has won upon him. Were it not for this, 
which renders his contours and his receding aspect un- 
seemly, he would be indeed a venerable-looking person, 
having a profile worthy of a patriarch, tinged though it 
may be with an unpatriarchal jollity, and a close curly 
beard like that of King David. He lives by himself in 
a small cottage outside the village — hating women with 
an unaccountable detestation — and apparently earns a 
precarious livelihood, and certainly the sincere aversion 
of the country side, by umpiring in matches, and playing 
whist and " Nap " with such as will not be so discreet and 
economical as to bow before his superior merit. 

His neighbours do not like him, because he will not 
take their cricket or their whist seriously, because he 
will persist in offering counsel and the stimulus of his 
gift of satire. All whist than his he avers is " Bumble- 
puppy." His umpiring is pedagogic in tone ; he fails to 
see the contest in the game. To him, who has heard his 
thousands roar as the bails of the best of All England went 
spinning, these village matches are mere puerile exercises 
to be corrected. His corrections, too, are Olympian, done, 
as it were, in red ink, vivid, and without respect of 
persons. Particularly he gibes. He never uses vulgar 
bad language himself, but has a singular power of 
engendering it in others. He has a word " gaby," which 
he will sometimes enlarge to " stuppid gaby," the which, 



flung neatly into a man who has just missed a catch, will 
fill the same with a whirl of furious curses difficult to 
restrain. And if perchance one should escape, my ancient 
cricketer will be as startled as Cadmus at the crop he has 
sown. And not only startled but pained at human wicked- 
ness and the follies of a new generation. " Why can't 
you play without swearing, Muster Gibbs ? " he will say, 
catching the whispered hope twenty yards away, and 
proclaiming it to a censorious world. And so Gibbs, 
our grocer and draper, and one made much of by the 
vicar, is shamed before the whole parish, and damned even 
as he desired. 

To our vicar, a well-meaning, earnest, and extremely 
nervous man, he displays a methodical antagonism. Our 
vicar is the worst of all possible rural vicars — unripe, a 
glaring modern, no classical scholar, no lover of nature, 
offensively young and yet not youthful, an indecent 
politician. He was meant to labour amid Urban Myriads, 
to deal with Social Evils, Home Rule, the Woman Question, 
and the Reunion of Christendom, attend Conferences and 
go with the Weltgeist — damn him! — wherever the Weltgeist 
is going. He presents you jerkily — a tall lean man of 
ascetic visage and ample garments, a soul clothed not so 
much in a fleshy body as in black flaps that ever trail 
behind its energy. Where they made him Heaven knows. 
No university owns him. It may be he is a renegade 
Dissenting minister, neither good Church nor wholesome 
Nonconformity. Him my cricketer regards with malig- 
nant respect. Respect he shows by a punctilious touch- 
ing of his hat brim, directed to the sacred office ; all the 
rest is malignity, and aimed at the man that fills it. 
They come into contact on the cricket-field, and on the 
committee of our reading-room. For our vicar, in spite 
of a tendency to myopia, conceives it his duty to encourage 
cricket by his participation. Duty — to encourage cricket ! 
So figure the scene to yourself. The sunlit green, and 
a match in progress, — the ball has just snipped a stump 
askew, — my ancient, leaning on a stout cabbage stick, and 
with the light overcoat that is sacred to umpires upon 
his arm. 

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^ Out, Billy Durgan," says he, and adds, ex cathedrd, 
"and one you ought to ha' hit for four." 

Then appears our vicar in semi-canonicals, worn "to 
keep up his position," or some such folly, nervous about 
the adjustment of his hat and his eyeglasses. He 
approaches the pitch, Smiling the while to show his 
purely genial import and to anticipate and explain any 
amateurish touches. He reaches the wicket and poses 
himself, as the convenient book he has studied directs. 
" You'll be caught, Muster Shackleforth, if you keep your 
shoulder up like that," says the umpire. " Ya-a-ps ! that's 
worse ! " — forgetting himself in his zeal for attitude. And 
then a voice cries " Play ! " 

The vicar swipes wildly, cuts the ball for two, and 
returns to his wicket breathless but triumphant. Next 
comes a bye, and then over. The misguided cleric, ever 
pursuing a theory of foolish condescension to his betters 
at the game, and to show there is no offence at the 
"Yaaps," takes the opportunity, although panting, of 
asking my ancient if his chicks — late threatened with 
staggers — are doing well. What would he think if my 
cricketer retaliated by asking, in the pause before the 
sermon, how the vicarage pony took his last bolus ? The 
two men do not understand one another. My cricketer 
waves the hens aside, and revenges himself, touching his 
hat at intervals, by some offensively obvious remarks — as 
to a mere beginner — about playing with a straight bat. 
And the field sniggers none too furtively. I sympathise 
with his malice. Cricket is an altogether too sacred thing 
to him to be tampered with on merely religious grounds. 
However, our vicar gets himself caught at the first 
opportunity, and so being removed from my veteran's 
immediate environment, to their common satisfaction, the 
due ritual of the great game is resumed. 

My ancient cricketer abounds in reminiscence of the 
glorious days that have gone for ever. He can still 
recall the last echoes of the " throwing " controversy that 
agitated Nyren, when over-arm bowling began, and though 
he never played himself in a beaver hat, he can, he says, 
recollect seeing matches so played. In those days every- 

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one wore tall hats — the policeman, the milkman, workmen 
of all sorts. Some people I fancy must have hathed in 
them and gone to bed wearing them. He recalls the 
Titans of that and the previous age, and particularly 
delights in the legend of Noah Mann, who held it a light 
thing to walk twenty miles from Northchapel to Hamble- 
don to practise every Tuesday afternoon, and wander back 
after dark. He himself as a stripling would run a matter 
of four miles, after a day's work in the garden where he 
was employed, to attend an hour's practice over the downs 
before the twilight made the balls invisible. And after- 
wards came Teutonic revelry or wanderings under the 
summer starlight, as the mood might take him. For 
there was a vein of silent poetry in the youth of 
this man. 

He hates your modern billiard-table pitch, and a bat- 
ting of dexterous snickery. He likes "character" in a 
game, gigantic hitting forward, bowler - planned leg 
catches, a cunning obliquity in a wicket that would send 
the balls mysteriously askew. But dramatic breaks are 
now a thing unknown in trade cricket. One legend of 
his I doubt ; he avers that once at Brighton, in a match 
between Surrey and Sussex, he saw seven wickets bowled 
by some such aid in two successive overs. I have never 
been able to verify this. I believe that, as a matter of 
fact, the thing has never occurred, but he tells it often 
in a fine crescendo of surprise, and the refrain, " Out he 
came." His first beginning is a cheerful anecdote of a 
crew of "young gentlemen" from Cambridge staying at 
the big house, and a challenge to the rustic talent of 
"me and Billy Hall," who "played a bit at that time," 
" of me and Billy Hall " winning the pitch and going in 
first, of a memorable if uncivil stand at the wickets 
through a long hot afternoon, and a number of young 
gentlemen from Cambridge painfully discovering local 
talent by exhaustive fielding in the park, a duty they 
honourably discharged. 

I am fond of my old cricketer, in spite of a certain 
mendacious and malign element in him. His yarns of 
gallant stands and unexpected turns of fortune, of 

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memorable hits and eccentric umpiring, albeit tending 
sometimes incredibly to his glory, are full of the flavour 
of days well spent, of bright mornings of play, sunlit 
sprawlings beside the score tent, warmth, the flavour of 
bitten grass stems, and the odour of crushed turf. One 
seems to hear the clapping hands of village ancients, and 
their ululations of delight. One thinks of stone jars with 
cool drink swishing therein, of shouting victories and 
memorable defeats, of eleven men in a drag, and tuneful 
and altogether glorious home-comings by the light of 
the moon. His were the Olympian days of the sport, 
when noble squires were its patrons, and every village a 
home and nursery of stalwart cricketers, before the epoch 
of special trains, gate-money, star elevens, and the tumult- 
uous gathering of idle cads to jabber at a game they 
cannot play. 

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This lady wears a blue serge suit and a black hat, without 
flippancy; she is a powerfully built lady and generally 
more or less flushed, and she is aunt, apparently, to a 
great number of objectionable-looking people. I go in 
terror of her. Yet the worm will turn at last, and so 
will the mild, pacific literary man. Her last outrage was 
too much even for my patience. It was committed at 
Gloucester Road Station the other afternoon. I was 
about to get into a train for Wimbledon, — and there are 
only two of them to the hour, — and, so far as I could see, 
the whole world was at peace with me. I felt perfectly 
secure. The aegis of the pax Britannica — if you will 
pardon the expression — was over me. For the moment 
the thought of the lady in the blue serge was quite out 
of my mind. I had just bought a newspaper, and had 
my hand on the carriage door. The guard was fluttering 
his flag. 

Then suddenly she swooped out of space, out of the 
infinite unknown, and hit me. She always hits me when 
she comes near me, and I infer she hits everyone she 
comes across. She hit me this time in the chest with her 
elbow and knocked me away from the door-handle. She 
hit me very hard; indeed, she was as fierce as I have 
ever known her. With her there were two nieces and a 
nephew, and the nephew hit me too. He was a horrid 
little boy in an Eton suit of the kind that they do not 
wear at Eton, and he hit me with his head and pushed 
at me with his little pink hands. The nieces might have 
been about twenty-two and thirteen respectively, and I 
infer that they were apprenticed to her. All four people 
seemed madly excited. "It's just starting!" they 


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screamed, and the train was, indeed, slowly moving. 
Their object — so far as they had an object and were not 
animated by mere fury — appeared to be to assault me 
and then escape in the train. The lady in blue got in 
and then came backwards out again, sweeping the smaller 
girl behind her upon the two others, who were engaged 
in hustling me. "It's 'smoking I'" she cried. I could 
have told her that, if she had asked instead of hitting me. 
The elder girl, by backing dexterously upon me, knocked 
my umbrella out of my hand, and when I stooped to pick 
it up the little boy knocked my hat off. I will confess 
they demoralised me with their archaic violence. I had 
some thought of joining in their wild amuck, whooping, 
kicking out madly, perhaps assaulting a porter,— I think 
the lady in blue would have been surprised to find what 
an effective addition to her staff she had picked up, — but 
before I could collect my thoughts sufficiently to do any 
definite thing the whole affair was over. A porter was 
slamming doors on them, the train was running fast out 
of the station, and I was left alone with an unmannerly 
newsboy and an unmannerly porter on the platform. I 
waited until the porter was out of the way, and then I 
hit the newsboy for laughing at me, but even with that 
altercation it was a tedious wait for the next train to 

This is the latest of my encounters with this lady, but 
it has decided me to keep silence no longer. She has 
been persecuting me now for years in all parts of London. 
It may be I am her only victim, but, on the other hand, 
she may be in the habit of annoying the entire class of 
slender and inoffensive young men. If so, and they will 
communicate with me through the publishers of this 
little volume, we might do something towards suppressing 
her, found an Anti-Energetic-Lady-League, or something 
of that sort. For if there was ever a crying wrong that 
clamoured for suppression it is this violent woman. 

She is, even now, flagrantly illegal. She might be 
given in charge for hitting people at any time, and be 
warned, or fined, or given a week. But somehow it is 
only when she is overpast and I am recovering my wits 

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that I recollect that she might be dealt with in this way. 
She is the chartered libertine of British matrons, and 
assaulteth where she listeth. The blows I have endured 
from her ? She fights people who are getting into 'buses. 
It is no mere accidental jostling, but a deliberate 
shouldering, poking with umbrellas, and clawing. It is 
her delight to go to the Regent Circus corner of Piccadilly, 
about half -past seven in the evening, accompanied by a 
genteel rout of daughters, and fill up whole omnibuses 
with them. At that hour there are work-girls and tired 
clerks, and the like worn-out anaemic humanity trying to 
get home for an hour or so of rest before bed, and they 
crowd round the 'buses very eagerly. They are little 
able to cope with her exuberant vitality, being ill-nourished 
and tired from the day's work, and she simply mows 
through them and fills up every vacant place they covet 
before their eyes. Then, I can never count change even 
when my mind is tranquil, and she knows that, and 
swoops threateningly upon me in booking offices and 
stationers' shops. When I am dodging cabs at crossings 
she will appear from behind an omnibus or carriage and 
butt into me furiously. She holds her umbrella in her 
folded arms just as the Punch puppet does his staff, and 
with as deadly effect. Sometimes she discards her 
customary navy blue and puts on a glittering bonnet with 
bead trimmings, and goes and hurts people who are 
waiting to enter the pit at theatres, and especially to hurt 
me. She is fond of public .shows, because they afford 
such possibilities of hurting me. Once I saw her standing 
partly on a seat and partly on another lady in the church 
of St. George's, Hanover Square, partly, indeed, watching 
a bride cry, nut chiefly, I expect, scheming how she could 
get round to me and hurt me. Then there was an 
occasion at tHe Academy when she was peculiarly 
aggressive. I was sitting next my lame friend when she 
marked me. Of course she came at once and sat right 
upon us. "Come along, Jane," I heard her say, as I 
struggled to draw my flattened remains from under her ; 
" this gentleman will make room." 

My friend was not so entangled and had escaped on the 

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other side. She noticed his walk. " Oh, don't you get 
up," she said. " This gentleman/' she indicated my 
convulsive struggles to free myself, " will do that. / did 
not see that you were a cripple" 

It may be some of my readers will recognise the lady 
now. It can be — for the honour of womankind — only 
one woman. She is an atavism, a survival of the age of 
violence, a Palaeolithic squaw in petticoats. I do not 
know her name and address or I would publish it I do 
not care if she kills me the next time she meets me, for 
the limits of endurance have been passed. If she kills 
me I shall die a martyr in the cause of the Queen's peace. 
And if it is only one woman, then it was the same lady, 
more than half intoxicated, that I saw in the Whitechapel 
Eoad cruelly ill-treating a little costermonger. If it was 
not she it was certainly her sister, and I do not care who 
knows it. 

What to do with her I do not know. A League, after 
all, seems ineffectual ; she would break up any League. I 
have thought of giving her in charge for assault, but I 
shrink from the invidious publicity of that. Still, I am 
in grim earnest to do something. I think at times that 
the compulsory adoption of a narrow doorway for churches 
and places of public entertainment might be some pro- 
tection for quiet, inoffensive people. How she would 
rage outside to be sure ! Yet that seems a great under- 

But this little paper is not so much a plan of campaign 
as a preliminary defiance. Life is a doubtful boon while 
one is never safe from assault, from hitting and shoving, 
from poking with umbrellas, being sat upon, and used as 
a target for projectile nephews and nieces. I warn her 
— possibly with a certain quaver in my voice — that I am 

in revolt. If she hits me again I will not say the 

precise thing I will do, but I warn her, very solemnly and 
deliberately, that she had better not hit me again. 

And so for the present the matter remains. 

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If I were really opulent, I would not go into a shop at all 
— I would have a private secretary. If I were really 
determined, Euphemia would do these things. As it is, 
I find buying things in a shop the most exasperating of 
all the many trying duties of life. I am sometimes 
almost tempted to declare myself Adamite to escape it. 
The way the shopman eyes you as you enter his den, the 
very spread of his fingers, irritate me. " What can I have 
the pleasure ? " he says, bowing forward at me, and with 
his eye on my chin — and so waits. 

Now I hate incomplete sentences, and confound his 
pleasure! I don't go into a shop to give a shopman 
pleasure. But your ordinary shopman must needs 
pretend you delight and amuse him. I say, trying to 
display my dislike as plainly as possible, "Gloves/' 
" Gloves, yessir," he says. Why should he ? I suppose 
he thinks I require to be confirmed in my persuasion that 
I want gloves. "Calf — kid — dogskin?" How should / 
know the technicalities of his traffic ? " Ordinary gloves," 
I say, disdaining his petty distinctions. "About what 
price, sir ? " he asks. 

Now that always maddens me. Why should I be 
expected to know the price of gloves? I'm not a 
commercial traveller nor a wholesale dealer, and I don't 
look like one. Neither am I constitutionally parsimonious 
nor petty. I am a literary man, unworldly, and I wear 
long hair and a soft hat and a peculiar overcoat to indicate 
the same to ordinary people. Why, I say, should I know 
the price of gloves? I know they are some ordinary 
price— elevenpence-half penny, or three-and-six, or seven- 
and-six, or something — one of those prices that everything 

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is sold at — but further I don't go. Perhaps I say eleven- 
pence-halfpenny at a venture. 

His face lights up with quiet malice. "Don't keep 
them, sir," he says. I can tell by his expression that I 
am ridiculously low, and so being snubbed. I think of 
trying with three-and-six, or seven-and-six ; the only 
other probable prices for things that I know, except a 
guinea and five pounds. Then I see the absurdity of the 
business, and my anger comes surging up. 

" Look here ! " I say, as bitterly as possible. " I don't 
come here to play at Guessing Games. Never mind 
your prices. I want some gloves. Get me some ! " 

This- cows him* a little, but very little. "May I ask 
your size, sir ? " he says, a trifle more respectfully. 

One would think I spent all my time remembering the 
size of my gloves. However, it is no good resenting it. 
" It's either seven or nine," I say in a tired way. 

He just begins another question, and then he catches 
my eye and stops and goes away to obtain some gloves, 
and I get a breathing space. But why do they keep on 
with this cross-examination ? If I knew exactly what I 
wanted — description, price, size — I should not go to a shop 
at all, it would save me such a lot of trouble just to send 
a cheque to the Stores. The only reason why I go into a 
tradesman's shop is because I don't know what I want 
exactly, am in doubt about the name or the size, or the 
price, or the fashion, and want a specialist to help me. 
The only reason for having shopmen instead of automatic 
machines is that one requires help in buying things. 
When I want gloves, the shopman ought to understand 
his business sufficiently well to know better than I do 
what particular kind of gloves I ought to be wearing, and 
what is a fair price for them. I don't see why I should 
teach him what is in fashion and what is not. A doctor 
does not ask you what kind of operation you want and 
what price you will pay for it. But I really believe 
these outfitter people would let me run about London 
wearing white cotton gloves and a plaid comforter with- 
out lifting a finger to prevent me. 

And, by the bye, that reminds me of a scandalous trick 

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these salesmen will play you. Sometimes they have not 
the thing you want, and then they make you buy other 
things. I happen to have, through no fault of my own, a 
very small head, and consequently for one long summer I 
wore a little boy's straw hat about London with the colours 
of a Paddington Board School, simply because a rascal 
outfitter hadn't my size in a proper kind of headgear, 
and induced me to buy the thing by specious repre- 
sentations. He must have known perfectly well it was not 
what I ought to wear. It seems never to enter into a 
shopman's code of honour that he ought to do his best for 
his customer. Since that, however, I have noticed lots of 
people about who have struck me in a new light as 
triumphs of the salesman, masterpieces in the art of 
incongruity ; age in the garb of youth, corpulence put off 
with the size called "slender men's"; unhappy, gentle, 
quiet men with ties like oriflammes, breasts like a king- 
fisher's, and cataclysmal trouser patterns. Even so, if the 
shopkeeper had his will, should we all be. Those poor 
withered maiden ladies, too, who fill us with a kind of 
horror, with their juvenile curls, their girlish crudity of 
colouring, their bonnets, giddy, tottering, hectic. It over- 
comes me with remorse to think that I myself- have 
accused them of vanity and folly. It overcomes me with 
pain to hear the thoughtless laugh aloud after them, in 
the public ways. For they are simply short-sighted 
trustful people, the myopic victims of the salesman 
and saleswoman. The little children gibe at them, pelt 
even. . . . And somewhere in the world a draper goes 

However, the gloves are bought. I select a pair 
haphazard, and he pretends to perceive they fit perfectly 
by putting them over the back of my hand. I make him 
assure me of the fit, and then buy the pair and proceed to 
take my old ones off and put the new on grimly. If they 
split or the fingers are too long — glovemakers have the 
most erratic conceptions of the human finger — I have to 
buy another pair. 

But the trouble only begins when you have bought your 
thing. "Nothing more, sir?" he says. "Nothing" I 

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say. " Braces ? " he says. " No, thank you," I say. " Collars, 
cuffs ? " He looks at mine swiftly but keenly, and with 
an unendurable suspicion. 

He goes on, item after item. Am I in rags, that I 
should endure this thing? And I get sick of my 
everlasting "No, thank you" — the monotony shows up 
so glaringly against his kaleidoscope variety. I feel all 
the unutterable pettiness, the mean want of enterprise 
of my poor little purchase compared with the catholic 
fling he suggests. I feel angry with myself for being 
thus played upon, furiously angry with him. " No, no I" 
I say. 

" These tie-holders are new." He proceeds to show me 
his infernal tie-holders. " They prevent the tie puckering," 
he says with his eye on mine. It's no good. "How 
much ? " I say. 

This whets him to further outrage. "Look here, my 
man !" I say at last, goaded to it, "I came here for gloves. 
After endless difficulties I at last induced you to let me 
have gloves. I have also been intimidated, by the most 
shameful hints and insinuations, into buying that beastly 
tie-holder. I'm not a child that I don't know my own 
needs. Now will you let me go? How much do you 
want ? " 

That usually checks him. 

The above is a fair specimen of a shopman — a favourable 
rendering. There are other things they do, but I simply 
cannot write about them because it irritates me so to think 
of them. One infuriating manoeuvre is to correct your 
pronunciation. Another is to make a terrible ado about 
your name and address — even when it is quite a well- 
known name. 

After I have bought things at a shop I am quite unfit 
for social intercourse. I have to go home and fume. 
There was a time when Euphemia would come and dis- 
cuss my purchase with a certain levity, but on one 
occasion .... 

Some day these shopmen will goad me too far. It's 
almost my only consolation, indeed, to think what I am 
going to do when I do break out. There is a salesman 

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somewhere in the world, he going on his way and I on 
mine, who will, I know, prove my last straw. It may be 
he will read this — amused — recking little of the mysteries 
of fate. ... Is killing a salesman murder, like lolling a 
human being ? 


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Pbofessor Gabgoylb, you must understand, has travelled 
to and fro in the earth, culling flowers of speech : a kind 
of recording angel he is, but without any sentimental 
tears. To be plain, he studies swearing. His collection, 
however, only approaches completeness in the western 
departments of European language. Going eastward he 
found such an appalling and tropical luxuriance of these 
ornaments as to despair at last altogether of even a repre- 
sentative selection. "They do not curse," he says, "at 
door-handles, and shirt-studs, and such other trifles as will 
draw down the meagre discharge of an Occidental, but 

when they do begin 

" I hired a promising-looking man at Calcutta, and after 
a month or so refused to pay his wages. He was unable 
to get at me with the big knife he carried, because the 
door was locked, so he sat on his hams outside under the 
verandah, from a quarter-past six in the morning until 
nearly ten, cursing — cursing in one steady unbroken flow 
— an astonishing spate of blasphemy. First he cursed my 
family, from me along the female line back to Eve, and 
then, having toyed with me personally for a little while, 
he started off along the line of my possible posterity to 
my remotest great-grandchildren. Then he cursed me by 
this and that. My hand ached taking it down, he was 
so very rich. It was a perfect anthology of Bengali 
blasphemy — vivid, scorching, and variegated. Not two 
alike. And then he turned about and dealt with different 
parts of me. I was really very fortunate in him. Yet 
it was depressing to think that all this was from one 
man, and that there are six hundred million people in 

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" Naturally," said the Professor in answer to my question, 
" these investigations involve a certain element of danger. 
The first condition of curse-collecting is to be unpopular, 
especially in the East, where comminatory swearing alone 
is practised, and you have to offend a man very grievously 
to get him to disgorge his treasure. In this country, 
except among ladies in comparatively humble circum- 
stances, anything like this fluent, explicit, detailed, and 
sincere cursing, aimed, missile - fashion, at a personal 
enemy, is not found. It was quite common a few 
centuries ago ; indeed, in the Middle Ages it was part of 
the recognised procedure. Aggrieved parties would issue 
a father's curse, an orphan's curse, and so forth, much as 
we should take out a county court summons. And it 
played a large part in ecclesiastical policy too. At one 
time the entire Church militant here on earth was 
swearing in unison, and the Latin tongue, at the Republic 
of Venice — a very splendid and imposing spectacle. It 
seems to me a pity to let these old customs die out so 
completely. I estimate that more than half these Gothic 
forms have altogether passed out of memory. There must 
have been some splendid things in Erse and Gaelic too ; 
for the Celtic mind, with its more vivid sense of colour, 
its quicker transitions, and deeper emotional quality, has 
ever over-cursed the stolid Teuton. But it is all getting 

" Indeed, your common Englishman now scarcely curses 
at all. A more colourless and conventional affair than 
what in England is called swearing one can scarcely 
imagine. It is just common talk, with some half-dozen 
orthodox bad words dropped in here and there in the 
most foolish and illogical manner. Fancy having orthodox 
unorthodox words ! I remember one day getting into a 
third-class smoking carriage on the Metropolitan Railway 
about one o'clock, and finding it full of rough working men. 
Everything they said was seasoned with one incredibly 
stupid adjective, and no doubt they thought they were 
very desperate characters. At last I asked them not to 
say that word again. One forthwith asked me 'What 
the ' — I really cannot quote these puerilities — ' what 


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the idiotic elicM that mattered to me?' So I looked at 
him quietly over my glasses, and I began. It was a 
revelation to these poor fellows. They sat open-mouthed, 
gasping. Then those that were nearest me began to edge 
away, and at the very next station they all bundled out 
of the carriage before the train stopped, as though I had 
some infectious disease. And the thing was just a rough 
imperfect rendering of some mere commonplaces, passing 
the time of day as it were, with which the heathen of 
Aleppo used to favour the servants of the American 
missionary. Indeed," said Professor Gargoyle, " if it were 
not for women there would be nothing in England that 
one could speak of as swearing at all." 

"I say," said I, "is not that rather rough on the 

"Not at all; they have agreed to consider certain 
words, for no very good reason, bad words. It is a pure 
convention ; it has little or nothing to do with the actual 
meaning, because for every one of these bad words there 
is a paraphrase or synonym considered to be quite suitable 
for polite ears. Hence the feeblest creature can always 
produce a sensation by breaking the taboo. But women 
are learning how to undo this error of theirs now. The 
word ' damn/ for instance, is, I hear, being admitted freely 
into the boudoir and feminine conversation; it is even 
considered a rather prudish thing to object to this word. 
Now, men, especially feeble men, hate doing things that 
women do. As a consequence, men who go about saying 
' damn ' are now regarded by their fellow-men as only a 
shade less effeminate than those who go about saying ' nasty ' 
and ' horrid/ The subtler sex will not be long in noticing 
what has happened to this objectionable word. When 
they do they will, of course, forthwith take up all the others. 
It will be a little startling perhaps at first, but in the end 
there will be no swearing left. I have no doubt there 
will be those who will air their petty wit on the pioneer 
women, but where a martyr is wanted a woman can 
always be found to offer herself. She will clothe herself 
in cursing, like the ungodly, and perish in that Nessus 
shirt, a martyr to pure language. And then this dull c$d 


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swearing — a mere unnecessary affectation of coarseness — 
will disappear. And a very good job too. 

" There is a pretty department of the subject which I 
might call grace swearing. ' Od's fish/ cried the king, 
when he saw the man climbing Salisbury spire ; ' he shall 
have a patent for it — no one else shall do it/ One might 
call such little things Wardour Street curses. 'Od's 
bodkins ' is a ladylike form, and ' Od's possles ' a variety 
I met in the British Museum. Every gentleman once 
upon a time aspired to have his own particular grace 
curse, just as he liked to have his crest, and his book- 
plate, and his characteristic signature. It fluttered 
pleasantly into his conversation, as Mr. Whistler's butter- 
fly comes into his pictures — a signature and a delight. 
' Od's butterfly ! ' I have sometimes thought of a little 
book of grace -words and heraldic curses, printed with 
wide margins on the best of paper. Its covers should be 
of soft red leather, stamped with little gold flowers. It 
might be made a birthday book, or a pocket diary — 
'Daily Invocations/ 

"Coming back to wrathy swearing, I must confess I 
am sorry to see it decay. It was such a thoroughly 
hygienic and moral practice. You see, if anything 
annoying happens to a man, or if any powerful emotion 
seizes him, his brain under the irritation begins to dis- 
engage energy at a tremendous rate. He has to use all 
his available force of control in keeping the energy in. 
Some of it will leak away into the nerves of his face and 
distort his features, some may set his tear-glands at work, 
some may travel down his vagus nerve and inhibit his 
heart's action so that he faints, or upset the blood-vessels 
in his head and give him a stroke. Or if he pens it up, 
without its reaching any of these vents, it may rise at last 
to flood -level, and you will have violent assaults, the 
breaking of furniture, 'murther' even. For all this 
energy a good flamboyant, ranting swear is Nature's out- 
let. All primitive men and most animals swear. It is an 
emotional shunt. Your cat swears at you because she 
does not want to scratch your face. And the horse, 
because he cannot swear, drops dead. So you see my 

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reason for regretting the decay of this excellent and most 
wholesome practice. . . . 

"However, I must be getting on. Just now I am 
travelliug about London paying cabmen their legal fares. 
Sometimes one picks up a new variant, though much of 
it is merely stereo." 

And with that, fliugiug a playful curse at me, he dis- 
appeared at once into the tobacco smoke from which I 
had engendered him. An amusing and cheerful person^ 
on the whole, though I will admit his theme was a little 


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The story of Dunstone is so slight, so trivial in its 
cardinal incidents, such a business of cheap feathers and 
bits of ribbon on the surface, that I should hesitate to tell 
it, were it not for its Inwardness, what one might call the 
symbolism of the thing. Frankly, I do not clearly see 
what that symbolism is, but I feel it hovering in some 
indefinable way whenever I recall his case. It is one of 
those things that make a man extend his arm and twiddle 
his fingers, and say, blinking, " like that, you know." So 
do not. imagine for one moment that this is a shallow 
story, simply because it is painted, so to speak, not in 
heart's blood but in table claret. 

Dunstone was a strong, quiet kind of man — a man of 
conspicuous mediocrity, and rising rapidly, therefore, in 
his profession. He was immensely industrious, and a 
little given to melancholia in private life* He smoked 
rather too many cigars, and took his social occasions 
seriously. He dressed faultlessly, with a scrupulous 
elimination of style. Unlike Mr. Grant Allen's ideal man, 
he was not constitutionally a lover; indeed, he seemed 
not to like the ordinary girl at all — found her either too 
clever or too shallow, lacking a something. I don't think 
he knew quite what it was. Neither do I — it is a case for 
extended hand and twiddling fingers. Moreover, I don't 
think the ordinary girl took to Dunstone very much. 

He suffered, I fancy, from a kind of mental greyness ; 
he was all subtle tones ; the laughter of girls jarred upon 
him ; foolish smartness or amiable foolishness got on his 
nerves ; he detested, with equal sincerity, bright dressing, 
artistic dabbling, piety, and the glow of health. And 
when, as his confidential friend — confidential, that is, sq 

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far as his limits allowed — I heard that he intended to 
marry, I was really very much surprised. 

I expected something quintessential; I was surprised 
to find she was a visiting governess. Harringay, the 
artist, thought there was nothing in her, but Sackbut, the 
art critic, was inclined to admire her bones. For my own 
part, I took rather a liking to her. She was small and 
thin, and, to be frank, I think it was because she hardly 
got enough to eat — of the delicate food she needed. She 
was shabby, too, dressed in rusty mourning — she had 
recently lost her mother. But she had a sweet, low voice, 
a shrinking manner, rather a graceful carriage, I thought, 
and, though she spoke rarely, all she said was sweet and 
sane. She struck me as a refined woman in a blatant age. 
The general effect of her upon me was favourable ; upon 
Dunstone it was tremendous. He lost a considerable 
proportion of his melancholia, and raved at times like a 
common man. He called her in particular his "Dear 
Lady " and his " Sweet Lady," things that I find eloquent of 
what he found in her. What that was I fancy I under- 
stand, and yet I cannot say it quite. One has to resort to 
the extended arm and fingers vibratile. 

Before he married her — which he did while she was still 
in half-mourning — there was anxiety about her health, 
and I understood she needed air and exercise and strength- 
ening food. But she recovered rapidly after her marriage, 
her eyes grew brighter, we saw less of Sackbut's " delicious 
skeleton." And then, in the strangest way, she began to 
change. It is none of my imagining ; I have heard the 
change remarked upon by half a dozen independent 
observers. Yet you would think a girl of three-and- 
twenty (as she certainly was) had attained her development 
as a woman. I have heard her compared to a winter 
bud, cased in its sombre scales, until the sun shone, and 
the warm, moist winds began to blow. I noticed first 
that the delicate outline of her cheek was filling, and 
then came the time when she reverted to colour in her 

Her first essays were charitably received. Her years of 
struggle, her year of mourning, hac} jxo doubt dwarfed her 


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powers in this direction ; presently her natural good taste 
would reassert itself. But the next effort and the next 
were harder to explain. It was not the note of nervous- 
ness or inexperience we saw; there was an undeniable 
decision, and not a token of shame. The little black 
winter bud grew warm-coloured above, and burst suddenly 
into extravagant outlines and chromatic confusion. 
Harringay, who is a cad, first put what we were all feeling 
into words. " I've just seen Dunstone and his donah/' he 
said. Clearly she was one of those rare women who 
cannot dress. And that was not all A certain 
buoyancy, hitherto unsuspected, crept into her manner, as 
the corpuscles multiplied in her veins — an archness. She 
talked more, and threw up a spray of playfulness. And, 
with a growing energy, she began to revise the exquisite 
aesthetic balance of Dunstone's house. She even enamelled 
a chair. 

For a year or so I was in the East. When I returned 
Mrs. Dunstone amazed me. In some o<Jd way she had 
grown, she had positively grown. She was taller, broader, 
brighter — infinitely brighter. She wore a diamond brooch 
in the afternoon. The " delicious skeleton " had vanished 
in plumpness. She moved with emphasis. Her eye — 
which glittered — met mine bravely, and she talked as one 
who would be heard. In the old days you saw nothing 
but a rare timid glance from under the pretty lids. She 
talked now of this and that, of people of "good family," 
and the difficulty of getting a suitable governess for her 
little boy. She said she objected to meeting people " one 
would not care to invite to one'a house. ,, She swamped 
me with tea and ruled the conversation, so that Dunstone 
and I, who were once old friends, talked civil twaddle for 
the space of one hour — theatres, concerts, and assemblies 
chiefly — and then parted again. The furniture had all 
been altered — there were two " cosy nooks " in the room 
after the recipe in the Born Lady. It was plain to" me, it 
is plain to everyone, I find, that Mrs. Dunstone is, in the 
sun of prosperity, rapidly developing an extremely florid 
vulgarity. And afterwards I discovered that she had 
forgotten her music, and evidently enjoyed her meals. Yet 


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I for one can witness that five years ago there was that 
about her — I can only extend my arm with quivering 
digits. But it was something very sweet and dainty, 
something that made her white and thoughtful, and 
marked her off from the rest of womankind. I sometimes 
fancy it may have been anaemia in part, but it was 
certainly poverty and mourning in the main. 

You may think that this is a story of disillusionment. 
When I first heard the story, I thought so too. But, so 
far as Dunstone goes, thai is not the case. It is rare that 
I see him now, but the other day we smoked two cigars 
apiece together. And in a moment of confidence he 
spoke of her. He said how anxious he felt for her health, 
called her his "Dainty Little Lady," and spoke of the 
coarseness of other women. I am afraid this is not a 

very eventful story, and yet there is that That very 

convenient gesture, an arm protruded and flickering 
fingers, conveys my meaning best. Perhaps you will 


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Euphemia has great ideas of putting people at their ease, 
a thousand little devices for thawing the very stiffest 
among them with a home-like glow. Far be it from me 
to sing her praises, but I must admit that at times she is 
extremely successful in this — at times almost too 
successful. That tea-cake business, for instance. No 
doubt it's a genial expedient to make your guests toast 
his own tea-cake : down he must go upon his knees upon 
your hearthrug, and his poses will melt away like the 
dews of the morning before the rising sun. Nevertheless, 
when it comes to roasting a gallant veteran like Major 
Augustus, deliberately roasting him, in spite of the facts 
that he has served his country nobly through thirty 
irksome years of peace, and that he admires Euphemia 
with a delicate fervour — roasting him, I saiy, alive, as if 
he were a Strasburg goose, or suddenly affixing a delicate 
young genius to the hither end of a toasting-fork while 
he is in the midst of a really very subtle and tender 
conversation, the limits of social warmth seem to be 
approaching dangerously near. However, this scarcely 
concerns Euphemia's new entertainment. 

This new entertainment is modelling in clay. Euphemia 
tells me it is to be quite the common thing this winter. It 
is intended especially for the evening, after a little dinner. 
As the reader is aware, the evening after a little dinner 
is apt to pall. A certain placid contentment creeps over 
people. I don't know in what organ originality resides ; 
but it's a curious thing, and one I must leave to the 
consideration of psychologists, that people's output of 
original remarks appears to be obstructed in some way 
after these gastronomic exercises. Then a little dinner 


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always confirms my theory of the absurdity of polygonal 
conversation. Music and songs, too, have their drawbacks, 
especially gay songs ; they invariably evoke a vaporous 
melancholy. Card-playing Euphemia objects to because 
her uncle, the dean, is prominent in connection with some 
ridiculous association for the suppression of gambling; 
and in what are called "games" no rational creature 
esteeming himself an immortal soul would participate. In 
this difficulty it was that Euphemia — decided, I fancy, by 
the possession of certain really very becoming aprons — 
took up this business of clay-modelling. 

You have a lump of greyish clay and a saucer of water 
and certain small tools of wood (for which I cannot 
discover the slightest use in the world) given you, and 
Euphemia puts on a very winning bib. Then, moistening 
the clay until it acquires sufficient plasticity, and 
incidentally splashing your cuffs and coat-sleeves with an 
agreeably light tinted mud, you set to work. At first 
people are a little disgusted at the apparent dirtiness of 
the employment, and also perhaps rather diffident. The 
eldest lady says weakly deprecatory things, and the 
feeblest male is jocular after his wont; But it is remark- 
able how soon the charm of this delightful occupation 
seizes hold of you. For really the sensations of moulding 
this plastic matter into shape are wonderfully and quite 
unaccountably pleasing. It is ever so much easier than 
drawing things — " anyone can do it," as the advertisement 
people say — and the work is so much more substantial in 
its effects. Technical questions arise. In moulding 
a head, do you take a lump and fine it down, or do 
you dab on the features after the main knob of it is 
shaped ? 

So soon as your guests realise the plastic possibilities 
before them, a great silence, a delicious absorption comes 
over them. Some rash person states that he is moulding 
an Apollo, or a vase, or a bust of Mr. Gladstone, or an 
elephant, or some such animal. The wiser ones go to 
work in a speculative spirit, aiming secretly at this 
perhaps, but quite willing to go on with that, if Providence 
so wills it. Buddhas are good subjects ; there is a certain 

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genial rotundity not difficult to attain, and the pyramidal 
build of the idol is well suited to the material. You can 
start a Buddha, and hedge to make it a loaf of bread if 
the features are unsatisfactory. For slender objects a 
skeletal substructure of bent hairpins or matches is 
advisable. The innate egotism of the human animal 
becomes very conspicuous. " His tail is too large/' says 
the lady with the fish, in self-criticism. " I haven't put 
his tail on yet — that's his trunk," answers the young man 
with the elephant. 

It's a pretty sight to see the first awakening of the 
artistic passion in your guests — the flush of discovery, the 
glow of innocent pride as the familiar features of Mr. 

Gladstone emerge from the bust of Clytie. An accidental 
stroke of the thumbnail develops new marvels of 
expression. (By the bye, it's just as well to forbid 
deliberate attempts at portraiture.) And I know no more 
becoming expression for everyone than the look of intent 
and pleasing effort — a divine touch almost — that comes 
over the common man modelling. For my own part, I 
feel a being infinitely my own superior when I get my 
fingers upon the clay. And, incidentally, how much 
pleasanter this is than writing articles — to see the work 
grow altogether under your hands ; to begin with the large 
masses and finish with the details, as evlery artist should ! 
Just to show how easy the whole thing is, I append a little 
sketch of the first work I ever did. I had had positively 

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no previous instruction. Unfortunately the left ear of the 
animal — a cat, by the bye — has fallen off. (The figure to 
the left is the back view of a Buddha.) 

However, I have said enough to show the charm of the 
new amusement. It will prove a boon to many a troubled 
hostess. The material is called modelling-clay, and one 
may buy it of any dealer in artists' materials, several 
pounds for sixpence. This has to be renewed at intervals, 
as a good deal is taken away by the more careless among 
your guests upon their clothes. 

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It is curious that people do not grumble more at having 
to spell correctly. Yet one may ask, Do we not a little 
over-estimate the value of orthography ? This is a 
natural reflection enough when the maker of artless happy 
phrases has been ransacking the dictionary for some 
elusive wretch of a word which in the end proves to be 
not yet naturalised, or technical, or a mere local vulgarity; 
yet one does not often hear the idea canvassed in polite 
conversation. Dealers in small talk, of the less prolific 
kind, are continually falling back upon the silk hat or 
dress suit, or some rule of etiquette or other convention 
as a theme, but spelling seems to escape them. The 
suspicion seems quaint, but one may almost fancy that an 
allusion to spelling savoured a little of indelicacy. It 
must be admitted, though where the scruples come from 
would be hard to say, that there is a certain diffidence 
even here in broaching my doubts in the matter. For 
some inexplicable reason spelling has become mixed up 
with moral feeling. One cannot pretend to explain 
things in a little paper of this kind; the fact is so. 
Spelling is not appropriate or inappropriate, elegant or 
inelegant ; it is right or wrong. We do not greatly blame 
a man for turn-down collars when the vogue is erect; 
nor, in these liberal days, for theological eccentricity ; but 
we esteem him " Nithing " and an outcast if he but drop 
a "p" from opportunity. It is not an anecdote, but a 
scandal, if we say a man cannot spell his own name. 
There is only one thing esteemed worse before we come 


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to the deadly crimes, and that is the softening of language 
by dropping the aspirate. 

After all, it is an unorthodox age. We are all horribly 
afraid of being bourgeois, and unconventionality is the 
ideal of every respectable person. It is strange that we 
should cling so steadfastly to correct spelling. Yet again, 
one can partly understand the business, if one thinks of 
the little ways of your schoolmaster and schoolmistress. 
This sanctity of spelling is stamped upon us in our earliest 
years. The writer recalls a period of youth wherein six 
hours a week were given to the study of spelling, and four 
hours to all other religious instruction. So important is 
it, that a writer who cannot spell is almost driven to 
abandon his calling, however urgent the thing he may 
have to say, or his need of the incidentals of fame. Yet 
in the crisis of such a struggle rebellious thoughts may 
arise. Even this : Why, after all, should correct spelling 
be the one absolutely essential literary merit ? For it is 
less fatal for an ambitious scribe to be as dull as Hoxton 
than to spell in diverse ways. 

Yet correct spelling of English has not been traced to 
revelation; there was no grammatical Sinai, with a 
dictionary instead of tables of stone. Indeed, we do not 
even know certainly when correct spelling began, which 
word in the language was first spelt the right way, and by 
whom. Correct spelling may have been evolved, or it 
may be the creation of some master mind. Its inventor, 
if it had an inventor, is absolutely forgotten. Thomas 
Cobbett would have invented it, but that he was born 
more than two centuries too late, poor man. All that we 
certainly know is that, contemporaneously with the rise of 
extreme Puritanism, the belief in orthography first spread 
among Elizabethan printers, and with the Hanoverian 
succession the new doctrine possessed the whole length 
and breadth of the land. At that time the world passed 
through what extension lecturers call, for no particular 
reason, the classical epoch. Nature — as, indeed, all the 
literature manuals testify — was in the remotest background 
then of human thought. The human mind, in a mood of 
the severest logic, brought everything to the touchstone 


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of an orderly reason; the conception of "correctness" 
dominated all mortal affairs. For instance, one's natural 
hair with its vagaries of rat's tails, duck's tails, errant curls, 
and baldness, gave place to an orderly wig, or was at least 
decently powdered. The hoop remedied the deficiencies 
of the feminine form, and the gardener clipped his yews 
into respectability. All poetry was written to one 
measure in those days, and a Royal Academy with a lady 
member was inaugurated that art might become at least 
decent. Dictionaries began. The crowning glory of 
Hanoverian literature was a Great Lexicographer. 

In those days it was believed that the spelling of every 
English word had been settled for all time. Thence to 
the present day, though the severities then inaugurated, 
so far as metre and artistic composition are concerned, 
have been generously relaxed — though we have had a 
Whistler, a Walt Whitman, and a Wagner — the rigours 
of spelling have continued unabated. There is just one 
right way of spelling, and all others are held to be not 
simply inelegant or undesirable, but wrong; and unorthodox 
spelling, like original morality, goes hand in hand with 

Yet even at the risk of shocking the religious convictions 
of some, may not one ask whether spelling is in truth a 
matter of right and wrong at all ? Might it not rather 
be an art ? It is too much to advocate the indiscriminate 
sacking of the alphabet, but yet it seems plausible that 
there is a happy medium between a reckless debauch 
of errant letters and our present dead rigidity. For some 
words at anyrate may there not be sometimes one way 
of spelling a little happier, sometimes another ? We do 
something of this sort even now with our " phantasy " and 
" fantasie," and we might do more. How one would spell 
this word or that would become, if this latitude were con- 
ceded, a subtle anxiety of the literary exquisite. People 
are scarcely prepared to realise what shades of meaning 
may be got by such a simple device. Let us take a simple 
instance. You write, let us say, to all your cousins, many 
of your friends, and even, it may be, to this indifferent 
intimate and that familiar enemy, " My dear So-and-so." 

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But at times you feel even as you write, sometimes, that 
there is something too much and sometimes something 
lacking. You may even get so far in the right way 
occasionally as to write, " My dr. So-and-so," when your 
heart is chill. And people versed in the arts of social 
intercourse know the subtle insult of misspelling a 
person's name, or flicking it off flippantly with a mere 
waggling wipe of the pen. But these are mere 

Let the reader take a pen in hand and sit down and 
write, "My very dear wife." Clean, cold, and correct 
this is, speaking of orderly affection, settled and stereo- 
typed long ago. In such letters is butcher's meat also 
" very dear." Try now, " Migh verrie deare Wyfe." Is 
it not immediately infinitely more soft and tender? Is 
there not something exquisitely pleasant in lingering over 
those redundant letters, leaving each word, as it were, 
with a reluctant caress ? Such spelling is a soft, domestic, 
lovingly wasteful use of material. Or, again, if you have 
no wife, or object to an old-fashioned conjugal tenderness, 
try "Mye.owne sweete dearrest Marrie." There is the 
tremble of a tenderness no mere arrangement of trim 
everyday letters can express in those double r's. "Sweete" 
my ladie must be ; sweet ! why pump- water and inferior 
champagne, spirits of nitrous ether and pancreatic juice 
are " sweet." For my own part I always spell so, with 
lots of f 's and g's and such like tailey, twirley, loopey things, 
when my heart is in the tender vein. And I hold that a 
man who will not do so, now he has been shown how to 
do it, is, in plain English, neither more nor less than a prig. 
The advantages of a varied spelling of names are very 
great. Industrious, rather than intelligent, people have 
given not a little time, and such minds as they have, to 
the discussion of the right spelling of our great poet's 
name. But he himself never dreamt of tying himself 
down to one presentation of himself, and was — we have 
his hand for it — Shakespeare, Shakspear, Shakespear, 
Shakspeare, and so forth, as the mood might be. 
It would be almost as reasonable to debate whether 
Shakespeare smiled or frowned. My dear friend Sim- 

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mongues is the same. He is " Sims/' a mere slash of the 
pen, to those he scorns, Simmonds or Simmongs to his 
familiars, and Simmons, A. T. Simmons, Esq., to all 

From such mere introductory departures from precision, 
such petty escapades as these, we would we might seduce 
the reader into an utter debauch of spelling. But a 
sudden Maenad dance of the letters on the page, gleeful 
and iridescent spelling, a wild rush and procession of 
howling vowels and clattering consonants, might startle 
the half -won reader back into orthodoxy. Besides, there 
is another reader — the printer's reader — to consider. For 
if an author let his wit run to these matters, he must 
write elaborate marginal exhortations to this authority, 
begging his mercy, to let the little flowers of spelling 
alone. Else the plough of that Philistine's uniformity 
will utterly root them out. 

Such high art of spelling as is thus hinted at is an art 
that has still to gather confidence and brave the light of 
publicity. A few, indeed, practise it secretly for love — 
in letters and on spare bits of paper. But, for the most 
part, people do not know that there is so much as an art 
of spelling possible; the tyranny of orthography lies so 
heavily on the land. Your common editors and their 
printers are a mere orthodox spelling police, and at the 
least they rigorously blot out all the delightful frolics 
of your artist in spelling before his writings reach the 
public eye. But commonly, as I have proved again and 
again, the slightest lapse into rococo spelling is sufficient 
to secure the rejection of a manuscript without further 

And to end, — a word about Phonographers. It may 
be that my title has led the reader to anticipate some 
mention of these before. They are a kind of religious 
sect, a heresy from the orthodox spelling. They bind 
one another by their mysteries and a five-shilling sub- 
scription in a "soseiti to introduis an impruvd method 
of spelinj." They come across the artistic vision, they 
and their Soseiti, with an altogether indefinable offence. 
Perhaps the essence of it is the indescribable meanness 


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of their motive. For this phonography really amounts 
to a study of the cheapest way of spelling words. These 
phonographers are sweaters of the Queen's English, living 
meanly on the selvage of honest mental commerce by 
clipping the coin of thought. But enough of them. They 
are mentioned here only to be disavowed. They would 
substitute one narrow orthodoxy for another, and I 
would unfold the banner of freedom. Spell, my brethren, 
as you will ! Awake, arise, language living in chains ; 
let Butter's spelling be our Bastille! So with a pro- 
phetic vision of liberated words pouring out of the 
dungeons of a spelling-book, this plea for freedom con- 
cludes. What trivial arguments there are for a uniform 
spelling I must leave the reader to discover. This is no 
place to carp against the liberation I foresee, with the 
glow of the dawn in my eyes. 

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P^M^-:i^.' wl ' ; " f 


I was asked to go, quite suddenly, and found myself there 
before I had time to think of what it might be. I under- 
stood her to say it was a meeting of some "Sunday 
society," some society that tried to turn the Sabbath 
from a day of woe to a day of rejoicing. " St. George's 
Hall, Langham Place," a cab, and there we were. I 
thought they would be picturesque Pagans. But the 
entertainment was the oddest it has ever been my lot 
to see, a kind of mystery. The place was dark, except 
for a big circle of light on a screen, and a dismal man 
with a long stick was talking about the effects of alcohol 
on your muscles. He talked and talked, and people went 
to sleep all about us. Euphemia's face looked so very 
pretty in the dim light that I tried to talk to her and 
hold her hand, but she only said " Ssh ! " And then 
they began showing pictures on the screen — the most 
shocking things! — stomachs, and all that kind of thing. 
They went on like that for an hour, and then there was 
a lot of thumping with umbrellas, and they turned the 
lights up and we went home. Curious way of spending 
Sunday afternoon, is it not ? 

But you may imagine I had a dismal time all that 
hour. I understood the people about me were Sceptics, 
the kind of people who don't believe things — a singular 
class, and, I am told, a growing one. These excellent 
people, it seems, have conscientious objections to going 
to chapel or church, but at the same time the devotional 
habit of countless generations of pious forerunners is 
strong in them. Consequently they have invented things 
like these lectures to go to, with a professor instead of 


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a priest, and a lantern slide of a stomach by way of 
altar-piece ; and alcohol they make their Devil, and their 
god is Hygiene — a curious and instructive case of mental 
inertia. I understand, too, there are several other temples 
of this Cult in London — South Place Chapel and Essex 
Hall, for instance, where they worship the Spirit of the 
Innermost. But the thing that struck me so oddly was 
the number of bald heads glimmering faintly in the 
reflected light from the lantern circle. And that set me 
thinking upon a difficulty I have never been able to 

You see these people, and lots of other people, too, 
believe in a thing they call Natural Selection. They 
think, as part of that belief, that men are descended 
from hairy simian ancestors ; assert that even a hundred 
thousand years ago the ancestor was hairy — hairy, heavy, 
and almost as much a brute as if he lived in Mr. Arthur 
Morrison's Whitechapel. For my own part I think it a 
pretty theory, and would certainly accept it were it not 
for one objection. The thing I cannot understand is how 
our ancestor lost that hair. I see no reason why he 
should not have kept his hair on. According to the 
theory of natural selection, materially favourable varia- 
tions survive, unfavourable disappear; the only way in 
which the loss is to be accounted for is by explaining it 
as advantageous; but where is the advantage of losing 
your hair? The disadvantages appear to me to be in- 
numerable. A thick covering of hair, like that of a 
Capuchin monkey, would be an invaluable protection 
against sudden changes of temperature, far better than 
any clothing can be. Had I that, for instance, I should 
be rid of the perpetual cold in the head that so disfigures 
my life; and the multitudes who die annually of chills, 
bronchitis, and consumption, and most of those who suffer 
.from rheumatic pains, neuralgia, and so forth, would not 
so die and suffer. And in the past, when clothing was 
less perfect and firing a casual commodity, the disadvan- 
tages of losing hair were all the greater. In very hot 
countries hair is perhaps even more important in saving 
the possessor from the excessive glare of the sun. Before 

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the invention of the hat, thick hair on the head at least 
was absolutely essential to save the owner of the skull 
from sunstroke. That, perhaps, explains why the hair 
has been retained there, and why it is going now that we 
have hats, but it certainly does not explain why it has 
gone from the rest of the body. 

One — remarkably weak — explanation has been pro- 
pounded : an appeal to our belief in human vanity. He 
picked it out by the roots, because he thought he was 
prettier without. But that is no reason at all. Suppose 
he did, it would not affect his children. Professor 
Weismann has at least convinced scientific people of 
this : that the characters acquired by a parent are rarely, 
if ever, transmitted to its offspring. An individual given 
to such wanton denudation would simply be at a dis- 
advantage with his decently covered fellows, would fall 
behind in the race of life, and perish with his kind. 
Besides, if man has been at such pains to uncover his 
skin, why have quite a large number of the most respected 
among us such a passionate desire to have it covered up 
again ? 

Yet that is the only attempted explanation I have 
ever come upon, and the thing has often worried me. 
I think it is just as probably a change in dietary. I have 
noticed that most of your vegetarians are shock-headed, 
ample-bearded men, and I have heard the Ancestor was 
vegetarian. Or it may be, I sometimes fancy, a kind of 
inherent disposition on the part of your human animal 
to dwindle. That came back in my memory vividly as 
I looked at the long rows of Sceptics, typical Advanced 
people, and marked their glistening crania. I recalled 
other losses. Here is Humanity, thought I, growing 
hairless, growing bald, growing toothless, unemotional, 
irreligious, losing the end joint of the little toe, dwindling 
in its osseous structures, its jawbone and brow ridges,, 
losing all the full, rich curvatures of its primordial 

It seems almost like what the scientific people call a 
Law. And by strenuous efforts the creature just keeps 
pace with his losses — devises clothes, wigs, artificial teeth, 

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paddings, shoes — what civilised being could use his bare 
feet for his ordinary locomotion? Imagine him on a 
furze-sprinkled golf links. Then stays, an efficient sub- 
stitute for the effete feminine backbone. So the thing 
goes on. Long ago his superficies became artificial, and 
now the human being shrinks like a burning cigar, and 
the figure he has abandoned remains distended with 
artificial ashes, dead dry protections against the exposures 
he so unaccountably fears. Will he go on shrinking, I 
wonder? — become at last a mere lurking atomy in his 
own recesses, a kind of hermit crab, the bulk of him a 
complex mechanism, a thing of rags and tatters and 
papier-mach£, stolen from the earth and the plant-world 
and his fellow beasts ? And at last may he not disappear 
altogether, none missing him, and a democracy of honest 
machinery, neatly clad and loaded up with sound prin- 
ciples of action, walk to and fro in a regenerate world ? 
Thus it was my mind went dreaming in St. George's 
Hall. But presently, as I say, came the last word about 
stomachs, and the bald men woke up, rattled their 
umbrellas, said it was vastly interesting, and went todd- 
ling off home in an ecstasy of advanced Liberalism. And 
we two returned to the place whence we came. 


by Google 


Accomplished literature is all very well in its way, no 
doubt, but much more fascinating to the contemplative 
man are the books that have not been writtenr These 
latter are no trouble to hold ; there are no pages to turn 
over. One can read them in bed on sleepless nights 
without a candle. Turning to another topic, primitive 
man in the works of the descriptive anthropologist is 
certainly a very entertaining and quaint person, but the 
man of the future, if we only had the facts, would appeal 
to us more strongly. Yet where are the books? As 
Euskin has said somewhere, & propos of Darwin, it is not 
what man has been, but what he will be, that should 
interest us. 

The contemplative man in his easy-chair, pondering 
this saying, suddenly beholds in the fire, through the 
blue haze of his pipe, one of these great unwritten 
volumes. It is large in size, heavy in lettering, seemingly 
by one Professor Holzkopf, presumably Professor at 
Weissnichtwo. "The Necessary Characters of the Man 
of the Eemote Future deduced from the Existing Stream 
of Tendency" is the title. The worthy Professor is 
severely scientific in his method, and deliberate and 
cautious in his deductions, the contemplative man dis- 
covers as he pursues his theme, and yet the conclusions 
are, to say the least, remarkable. We must figure the 
excellent Professor expanding the matter at great length, 
voluminously technical, but the contemplative man — 
since he has access to the only copy — is clearly at liberty 
to make such extracts and abstracts as he chooses for the 
unscientific reader. Here, for instance, is something of 
practicable lucidity that he considers admits of quotation. 



by Google 


"The theory of evolution," writes the Professor, "is 
now universally accepted by zoologists and botanists, and 
it is applied unreservedly to man. Some question, indeed, 
whether it fits his soul, but all agree it accounts for his 
body. Man, we are assured, is descended from ape-like 
ancestors, moulded by circumstances into men, and these 
apes again were derived from ancestral forms of a lower 
order, and so up from the primordial protoplasmic jelly. 
Clearly then, man, unless the order of the universe has 
come to an end, will undergo further modification in the 
future, and at last cease to be man, giving rise to some 
other type of animated being. At once the fascinating 
question arises, What will this being be ? Let us consider 
for a little the plastic influences at work upon our species. 

" Just as the bird] is the creature of the wing, and is all 
moulded and modified to flying, and just as the fish is the 
creature that swims, and has had to meet the inflexible 
conditions of a problem in hydrodynamics, so man is the 
creature of the brain ; he will live by intelligence, and not 
by physical strength, if he live at all. So that much that 
is purely 'animal' about him is being, and must be, 
beyond all question, suppressed in his ultimate develop- 
ment. Evolution is no mechanical tendency making for 
perfection, according to the ideas current in the year of 
grace 1897; it is simply the continual adaptation of 
plastic life, for good or evil, to the circumstances that 
surround it. . . . We notice this decay of the animal part 
around us now, in the loss of teeth and hair, in the 
dwindling hands and feet of men, in their smaller jawsL 
and slighter mouths and ears. Man now does by wit ancP 
machinery and verbal agreement what he once did by 
bodily toil ; for once he had to catch his dinner, capture^ 
his wife, run away from his enemies, and continually 
exercise himself, for love of himself, to perform these 
duties well. But now all this is changed. Cabs, trains, 
trams, render speed unnecessary, the pursuit of food 
becomes easier ; his wife is no longer hunted, but rather, 
in view of the crowded matrimonial market, seeks him 
out. One needs wits now to live, and physical activity 
is a drug, a snare even; it seeks artificial outlets, and 

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overflows in games. Athleticism takes up time and 
cripples a man in his competitive examinations, and in 
business. So is your fleshly man handicapped against 
his subtler brother. He is unsuccessful in life, does not 
marry. The better adapted survive. 

The coming man, then, will clearly have a larger brain, 

/ ,- and a slighter body than the present. But the Professor 

makes one exception to this. " The human hand/since it 

is the teacher and interpreter of the brain, will become 

constantly more powerful and subtle as the rest of the 

musculature dwindles." 

Then in the physiology of these children of men, with 

/their expanding brains, their great sensitive hands and 

diminishing bodies, great changes were necessarily worked. 

v " We see now," says the Professor, " in the more intellectual 

sections of humanity an increasing sensitiveness to 

stimulants, a growing inability to grapple with such a 

matter as alcohol, for instance. No longer can men drink 

a bottleful of port; some cannot drink tea; it is too 

exciting for their highly-wrought nervous systems. The 

\ process will go on, and the Sir Wilfrid Lawson of some 

J near generation may find it his duty and pleasure to make 

[ the silvery spray of his wisdom tintinnabulate against the 

1 tea-tray. These facts lead naturally to the comprehension 

of others. Fresh raw meat was once a dish for a king. 

Now refined persons scarcely touch meat unless it is 

cunningly disguised. Again, consider the case of turnips ; 

the raw root is now a thing almost uneatable, but once 

upon a time a turnip must have been a rare and fortunate 

find, to be torn up with delirious eagerness and devoured 

in ecstasy. The time will come when the change will 

affect all the other fruits of the earth. Even now, only 

the young of mankind eat apples raw — the young always 

preserving ancestral characteristics after their disappear 

ance in the adult. Some day even boys will regard apples 

without emotion. The boy of the future, one must 

believe, will gaze on an apple with the same unspeculative 

languor with which he now regards a flint" — in the 

absence of a cat. 

"Furthermore, fresh chemical discoveries came into 

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action as modifying influences upon men. In the pre- 
historic period even, man's mouth had ceased to be an 
instrument for grasping food ; it is still growing continually 
less prehensile, his front teeth are smaller, his lips thinner 
and less muscular ; he has a new organ, a mandible not of 
irreparable tissue, but of bone and steel — a knife and fork. 
There is no reason why things should stop at partial artificial 
division thus afforded; there is every reason, on the * 
contrary, to believe my statement that some cunning j 
exterior mechanism will presently masticate and insalivate / 
his dinner, relieve his diminishing salivary glands and 
teeth, and at last altogether abolish them." , 

Then what is not needed disappears. What use is ^**' 
there for external ears, nose, and brow ridges now ? The 
two latter once protected the eye from injury in conflict 
and in falls, but in these days we keep on our legs, and at 
peace. Directing his thoughts in this way, the reader 
may presently conjure up a dim, strange vision of the 
latter-day face : " Eyes large, lustrous, beautiful, soulful ; 
above them, no longer separated by rugged brow ridges, 
is the top of the head, a glistening, hairless dome, terete 
and beautiful; no craggy nose rises to disturb by its 
unmeaning shadows the symmetry of that calm face, no 
vestigial ears project; the mouth is a small, perfectly 
round aperture, toothless and gumless, jawless* unanimal, 
no futile emotions disturbing its roundness as it lies, like 
the harvest moon or the evening star, in the wide firma- 
ment of face." Such is the face the Professor beholds in 
the future. 

Of course parallel modifications will also affect the body 
and limbs. "Every day so many hours and so much 
energy are required for digestion ; a gross torpidity, a 
carnal lethargy, seizes on mortal men after dinner. This 
may and can be avoided. Man's knowledge of organic 
chemistry widens daily. Already he can supplement the 
gastric glands by artificial devices. Every doctor who 
administers physic implies that the bodily functions may 
be artificially superseded. We have pepsine, pancreatine, 
artificialgastricacid — I know not what like mixtures. Why, 
then, should not the stomach be ultimately superannuated 

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altogether ? A man who could not only leave his dinner 
to be cooked, but also leave it to be masticated and 
digested, would have vast social advantages over his food- 
digesting fellow. This is, let me remind you here, the 
calmest, most passionless, and scientific working out of the 
future forms of things from the data of the present. At 
this stage the following facts may perhaps stimulate your 
imagination. There can be no doubt that many of the 
Arthropods, a division of animals more ancient and even 
now more prevalent than the Vertebrata, have undergone 
more phylogenetic modification" — a beautiful phrase — 
"than even the most modified of vertebrated animals. 
Simple forms like the lobsters display a primitive structure 
parallel with that of the fishes. However, in such a form 
as the degraded * Chondracanthus/ the structure has 
diverged far more widely from its original type than in 
man. Among some of these most highly modified 
crustaceans the whole of the alimentary canal — that is, 
all the food-digesting and food-absorbing parts — form a 

/ useless solid cord: the animal is nourished — it is a 
parasite — by absorption of the nutritive fluid in which it 

v^swims. Is there any absolute impossibility in supposing 
man to be destined for a similar change ; to imagine him 
no longer dining, with unwieldy paraphernalia of servants 
and plates, upon food queerly dyed and distorted, but 
nourishing himself in elegant simplicity by immersion in 
a tub of nutritive fluid ? 

"There grows upon the impatient imagination a 
building, a dome of crystal, across the translucent surface 
of which flushes of the most glorious and pure prismatic 
colours pass and fade and change. In the centre of this 
transparent chameleon-tinted dome is a circular white 
marble basin filled with some clear, mobile, amber liquid, 
and in this plunge and float strange beings. Are they 
birds ? 

" They are the descendants of man — at dinner. Watch 
them as they hop on their hands — a method of progres- 
sion advocated already by Bjornsen — about the pure white 
marble floor. Great hands they have, enormous brains 
soft, liquid, soulful eyes. Their whole muscular system' 

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r er of 

. In ) 

j food I 

dthe I 


their lege, their abdomens, are shrivelled to nothing, a 
dangling, degraded pendant to their minds." 

The further visions of the Professor are less alluring. 

" The animals and plants die away before men, except 
such as he preserves for his food or delight, or such as 
maintain a precarious footing about him as commensals 
and parasites. These vermin and pests must succumb 
sooner or later to his untiring inventiveness and in- 
cessantly growing discipline. When he learns (the 
chemists are doubtless getting towards the secret now) to 
do the work of chlorophyll without the plant, then his 
necessity for other animals and plants upon the earth will 
disappear. Sooner or later, where there is no power ol 
resistance and no necessity, there comes extinction, 
the last days man will be alone on the earth, and his 
will be won by the chemist from the dead rocks and 

" And — one may learn the full reason in that explicit 
and painfully right book, the Data of Ethics — the 
irrational fellowship of man will give place to an intel- 
lectual co-operation, and emotion fall within the scheme 
of reason. Undoubtedly it is a long time yet, but a long 
time is nothing in the face of eternity, and every man 
who dares think of these things must look eternity in the 

Then the earth is ever radiating away heat into space, 
the Professor reminds us. And so at last comes a vision 
of earthly cherubim, hopping heads, great unemotional 
intelligences, and little hearts, fighting together perforce 
and fiercely against the cold that grips them tighter and 
tighter. For the world is cooling— slowly and inevitably 
it grows colder as the years roll by. " We must imagine 
these creatures," says the Professor, "in galleries and 
laboratories deep down in the bowels of the earth. The 
whole world will be snow-covered and piled with ice ; all 
animals, all vegetation vanished, except this last branch 
of the tree of life. The last men have gone even deeper, 
following the diminishing, heat of the planet, and vast 
metallic shafts and ventilators make way for the air they 

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So with a glimpse of these human tadpoles, in their 
deep close gallery, with their boring machinery ringing 
V away, and artificial lights glaring and casting black 
shadows, the Professor's horoscope concludes. Humanity 
in dismal retreat before the cold, changed beyond recogni- 
tion. Yet the Professor is reasonable enough, his facts are 
current science, his methods orderly. The contemplative 
man shivers at the prospect, starts up to poke the fire, 
and the whole of this remarkable book that is not written 
vanishes straightway in the smoke of his pipe. This is 
the great advantage of this unwritten literature : there is 
no bother in changing the books. The contemplative 
man consoles himself for the destiny of the species with 
the lost portion of Kubla Khan. 


by Google 


It is part of the excessive egotism of the human animal 
that the bare idea of its extinction seems incredible to it. 
"A world without us\" it says, as a heady young 
Cephalaspis might have said it in the old Silurian sea. 
But since the Cephalaspis and the Coccosteus many a fine 
animal has increased and multiplied upon the earth, 
lorded it over land or sea without a rival, and passed at 
last into the night. Surely it is not so unreasonable to 
ask why man should be an exception to the rule. From 
the scientific standpoint at least any reason for such 
exception is hard to find. 

No doubt man is undisputed master at the present time 
— at least of most of the land surface ; but so it has been 
before with other animals. Let us consider what light 
geology has to throw upon this. The great land and sea 
reptiles of the Mesozoic period, for instance, seem to have 
been as secure as humanity is now in their pre-eminence. 
But they passed away and left no descendants when the 
new orders of the mammals emerged from their obscurity. 
So, too, the huge Titanotheria of the American continent, 
and all the powerful mammals of Pleistocene South 
America, the sabre-toothed lion, for instance, and the 
Machrauchenia suddenly came to a finish when they were 
still almost at the zenith of their rule. And in no case 
does the record of the fossils show a really dominant species 
succeeded by its orvn descendants. What has usually 
happened in the past appears to be the emergence of some 
type of animal hitherto rare and unimportant, and the 
extinction, not simply of the previously ruling species, 
but of most of the forms that are at all closely related to 
it. Sometimes, indeed, as in the case of the extinct giants 



by Google 


of South America, they vanished without any considerable 
rivals, victims of pestilence, famine, or, it may be, of that 
cumulative inefficiency that comes of a too undisputed 
life. So that the analogy of geology, at anyrate, is 
against this too acceptable view of man's certain tenure 
of the earth for the next few million years or so. 

And, after all, even now man is by no means such a 
master of the kingdoms of life as he is apt to imagine. 
The sea, that mysterious nursery of living things, is for 
all practical purposes beyond his control. The low-water 
mark is his limit. Beyond that he may do a little with 
seine and dredge, murder a few million herrings a year as 
they come in to spawn, butcher his fellow air-breather, 
the whale, or haul now and then an unlucky king-crab or 
strange sea-urchin out of the deep water, in the name of 
science ; but the life of the sea as a whole knows him not, 
plays out its slow drama of change and development 
unheeding him, and may in the end, in mere idle sport, 
throw up some new terrestrial denizens, some new 
competitor for space to live in and food to live upon, that 
will sweep him and all his little contrivances out of 
existence, as certainly and inevitably as he has swept 
away auk, bison, and dodo during the last two hundred 

For instance, there are the Crustacea. As a group the 
crabs and lobsters are confined below the high-water 
mark. But experiments in air-breathing are no doubt in 
progress in this group — we already have tropical land- 
crabs — and as far as we know there is no reason why in 
the future these creatures should not increase in size and 
terrestrial capacity. In the past we have the evidence of 
the fossil Paradoxides that creatures of this kind may at 
least attain a length of six feet, and, considering their 
intense pugnacity, a crab of such dimensions would be as 
formidable a creature as one could well imagine. And 
their amphibious capacity would give them an advantage 
against us such as at present is only to be found in the 
case of the alligator or crocodile. If we imagine a shark 
that could raid out upon the land, or a tiger that could 
take refuge in the sea, we should have a fair suggestion of 

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what a terrible monster a large predatory crab might 
prove. And so far as zoological science goes we must, at 
least, admit that such a creature is an evolutionary 

Then, again, the order of the Cephalopods, to which 
belong the cuttle-fish and the octopus (sacred to Victor 
Hugo), may be, for all we can say to the contrary, an 
order with a future. Their kindred, the Gastropods, 
have, in the case of the snail and slug, learnt the trick of 
air-breathing. And not improbably there are even now 
genera of this order that have escaped the naturalist, or 
even well-known genera whose possibilities in growth 
and dietary are still unknown. Suppose some day a 
specimen of a new species is caught off the coast of Kent. 
It excites remark at a Royal Society soiree, engenders a 
Science Note or so, " A Huge Octopus ! " and in the next 
year or so three or four other specimens come to hand, 
and the thing becomes familiar. "Probably a new and 
larger variety of Octopus so-and-so, hitherto supposed to 
be tropical," says Professor Gargoyle, and thinks he has 
disposed of it. Then conceive some mysterious boating 
accidents and deaths while bathing. A large animal of 
this kind coming into a region of frequent wrecks might 
so easily acquire a preferential taste for human nutriment, 
just as the Colorado beetle acquired a new taste for the 
common potato and gave up its old food-plants some years 
ago. Then perhaps a school or pack or flock of Octopus 
gigas would be found busy picking the sailors off a stranded 
ship, and then in the course of a few score years it might 
begin to stroll up the beaches and batten on excursionists. 
Soon it would be a common feature of the watering-places — 
possibly at last commoner than excursionists. Suppose 
such a creature were to appear — and it is, we repeat, a 
possibility, if perhaps a remote one — how could it be 
fought against ? Something might be done by torpedoes ; 
but, so far as our past knowledge goes, man has no means 
of seriously diminishing the numbers of any animal of the 
most rudimentary intelligence that made its fastness in 
the sea. 

Even on land it is possible to find creatures that with 4 

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little modification might become excessively dangerous to 
the human ascendency. Most people have read of the 
migratory ants of Central Africa, against which no man 
can stand. On the march they simply clear out whole 
villages, drive men and animals before them in headlong 
rout, and kill and eat every living creature they can 
capture. One wonders why they have not already spread 
the area of their devastations. But at present no doubt 
they have their natural checks, of ant-eating birds, or 
what not. In the near future it may be that the 
European immigrant, as he sets the balance of life swing; 
ing in his vigorous manner, may kill off these ant-eating 
animals, or otherwise unwittingly remove the checks that 
now keep these terrible little pests within limits. And 
once they begin to spread in real earnest, it is hard to see 
how their advance could be stopped. A world devoured 
by ants seems incredible now, simply because it is not 
within our experience ; but a naturalist would have a dull 
imagination who could not see in the numerous species 
of ants, and in their already high intelligence, far more 
possibility of strange developments than we have in the 
solitary human animal. And no doubt the idea of the 
small and feeble organism of man, triumphant and omni- 
present, would have seemed equally incredible to an 
intelligent mammoth or a palaeolithic cave bear. 

And, finally, there is always the prospect of a new 
disease. As yet science has scarcely touched more than 
the fringe of the probabilities associated with the minute 
fungi that constitute our zymotic, diseases. Byt the bacilli 
have no more settled down into their final quiescence 
than have men ; like ourselves, they are adapting them- 
selves to new conditions and acquiring new powers. The 
plagues of the Middle Ages, for instance, seem to have 
been begotten of a strange bacillus engendered under 
conditions that sanitary science, in spite of its panacea 
of drainage, still admits are imperfectly understood, and 
for all we know even now we may be quite unwittingly 
evolving some new and more terrible plague-^-a plague 
that will not take ten or twenty or thirty per cent., as 
plagues have done in the past, but the entire hundred, . 


by Google 



No ; man's complacent assumption of the future is too 
confident. We think, because tilings have been easy for 
mankind as a whole for a generation or so, we are going 
on to perfect comfort and security in the future. We 
think that we shall always go to work at ten and leave 
off at four, and have dinner at seven for ever and ever. 
But these four suggestions, out of a host of others, must 
surely do a little against this complacency. Even now, 
for all we can tell, the coming terror may be crouching 
for its spring and the fall of humanity be at hand. In 
the case of every other predominant animal the world has 
ever seen, I repeat, the hour of its complete ascendency 
has been the eve of its entire overthrow. But if some 
poor story - writing man ventures to figure this sober 
probability in a tale, not a reviewer in London but will 
tell him his theme is the utterly impossible. And, when 
the thing happens, one may doubt if even then one will 
get the recognition one deserves. 


by Google 


The art of the essayist is so simple, so entirely free from 
canons of criticism, and withal so delightful, that one 
must needs wonder why all men are not essayists. 
Perhaps people do not know how easy it is. Or perhaps 
beginners are misled. Eightly taught it may be learnt 
in a brief ten minutes or so, what art there is in it. And 
all the rest is as easy as wandering among woodlands on 
a bright morning in the spring. 

Then sit you down if you would join us, taking paper, 
pens, and ink ; and mark this, your pen is a matter of 
vital moment. For every pen writes its own sort of 
essay, and pencils also after their kind. The ink perhaps 
may have its influence too, and the paper; but para- 
mount is the pen. This, indeed, is the fundamental 
secret of essay - writing. Wed any man to his proper 
pen, and the delights of composition and the birth of 
an essay are fissured. Only many of u& wander through 
the earth and never meet with her — futile and lonely 

And, of all pens, your quill for essays that are literature. 

There is a subtle informality, a delightful easiness, 

perhaps even a faint immorality essentially literary, about 

the quill. The quill is rich in suggestion and quotation. 

There are quills that would quote you Montaigne and 

Horace in the hands of a trades -union delegate. And 

those quirky, idle noises this pen makes are delightful, 

and would break your easy fluency with wit. All the 

classical essayists wrote with a quill, and Addison used 

the most expensive kind the Government purchased. 

And the beginning of the inferior essay was the dawn of 

the cheap steel pen. 


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The quill nibs they sell to fit into ordinary pen-holders 
are no true quills at all, lacking dignity, and may even 
lead you into the New Humour if you trust overmuch to 
their use. After a proper quill commend me to a 
stumpy BB pencil; you get less polish and broader 
effects, but you are still doing good literature. Some- 
times the work is close — Mr. George Meredith, for 
instance, is suspected of a soft pencil — and always it is 
blunter than quill work and more terse. With a hard 
pencil no man can write anything but a graceless style — a 
kind of east wind air it gives — and smile you cannot. 
So that it is often used for serious articles in the 
half-crown reviews. 

There follows the host of steel pens. That bald, clear, 
scientific style, all set about with words like " evolution " 
and " environment," which aims at expressing its meaning 
with precision and an exemplary economy of words, is 
done with fine steel nibs — twelve a penny at any 
stationer's. The J pen to the lady novelist, and the 
stylograph to the devil — your essayist must not touch 
the things. So much for the pen. If you cannot 
write essays easily, that is where the hitch comes in. 
Get a box of a different kind of pen and begin again, 
and so on again and again until despair or joy arrests 

As for a typewriter, you could no more get an essay 
out of a typewriter than you could play a sonata upon 
its keys. No essay was ever written with a typewriter 
yet, nor ever will be. Besides its impossibility, the 
suggestion implies a brutal disregard of the division of 
labour by which we live and move and have our being. 
If the essayist typewrite, the unemployed typewriter, who 
is commonly a person of superior education and capacity, 
might take to essays, and where is your living then? 
One might as reasonably start at once with the Linotype 
and print one's wit and humour straight away. And 
taking the invasion of other trades one step further one 
might, after an attempt to sell one's own newspaper, even 
get to the pitch of having to read it oneself. No ; even 
essayists must be reasonable. If its mechanical clitter- 

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clatter did not render composition impossible, the type- 
writer would still be beneath the honour of a literary- 

Then for the paper. The luxurious, expensive, small- 
sized cream-laid note is best, since it makes your essay 
choice and compact ; and, failing that, ripped envelopes 
and the backs of bills. Some men love ruled paper, 
because they can write athwart the lines, and some take 
the fly-leaves of their friends' books. But whosoever 
writes on cheap sermon paper full of hairs should write 
far away from the woman he loves, lest he offend 
her ears. It is good, however, for a terse, forcible 

The ink should be glossy black as it leaves your pen, 
for polished English. Violet inks lead to sham sentiment, 
and blue-black to vulgarity. Eed ink essays are often 
good, but usually unfit for publication. 

This is as much almost as anyone need know to begin 
essay writing. Given your proper pen and ink, or pencil 
and paper, you simply sit down and write the thing. 
The value of an essay is not its matter, but its mood. 
You must be comfortable, of course ; an easy-chair with 
arm-rests, slippers, and a book to write upon are usually 
employed, and you must be fed recently, and your body 
clothed with ease rather than grandeur. For the rest, 
do not trouble to stick to your subject, or any subject; 
and take no thought for the editor or the reader, for 
your essay should be as spontaneous as the lilies of the 

So long as you do not begin with a definition you may 
begin anyhow. An abrupt beginning is much admired, 
after the fashion of the clown's entry through the 
chemist's window. Then whack at your reader at once, 
hit him over the head with the sausages, brisk him up 
with the poker, bundle him into the wheelbarrow, and 
so carry him away with you before he knows where you 
are. You can do what you like with a reader then, if 
you only keep him nicely on the move. So long as 
you are happy your reader will be so too. But one 
law must be observed : an essay, like a dog that wishes 

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to please, must have a lively tail, -short but as waggish 
as possible. Like a rocket, an essay goes only with 
fizzle and sparks at the end of it. And, know, that to 
stop writing is the secret of writing an essay; the 
essay that the public loves dies young. 

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By way of jest, my morning daily paper constantly in- 
cludes in its menu of "To-day" the Parkes Museum, 
Margaret Street, adding, seductively, "free"; and no 
doubt many a festive Jonas Chuzzlewit has preened 
himself for a sight-seeing, and all unaware of the 
multitudes of Margaret Streets — surely only Charlottes 
of that ilk are more abundant — has started forth, he 
and his feminine, to find this Parkes Museum. One 
may even conceive a rare Bank Holiday thoughtfully 
put aside for the quest, and spent all vainly in the 
asking of policemen, and in traversing this vast and 
tiresome metropolis, from Margaret Street to Margaret 
Street, the freshness of the morning passing into the 
dry heat of the day, fatigue spreading from the feet 
upwards, discussion, difference, denial, "words," and a 
day of recreation dying at last into a sunset of lurid 
sulks. Such possibility was too painful to think of, 
and a philanthropic inquirer has at last by persistent 
investigation won the secret of the Missing Museum 
and opened the way to it for all future investigators. 

The Margaret Street in question is an apparently 
derelict thoroughfare, opening into Great Portland Street. 
Immemorial dust is upon its pavements, and a profound 
silence broods over its vacant roadway. The blinds 
of its houses are mostly down, and, where the blackness 
of some window suggests a dark interior, no face appears 
to reassure us in our doubt of humanity within. It may 
be that somewhen in the past the entire population of 
this street set out on a boating party up the river, 


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and was overset by steam launches, and so never 
returned, or perchance it has all been locked up for 
a long term of imprisonment — though the houses seem 
almost too respectable for that; or the glamour of the 
Sleeping Beauty is upon it all. Certainly we saw 
the figure of a porter in an attitude of repose in the 
little glass lodge in the museum doorway. He may 
have been asleep. But we feared to touch him — and 
indeed slipped very stealthily by him — lest he should 
suddenly crumble into dust. 

And so to the Museum and its wonders. This Parkes 
Museum is a kind of armoury of hygiene, a place full of 
apparatus for being healthy — in brief, a museum of 
sanitary science. To that large and growing class of 
people who take no thought of anything but what they 
eat and what they drink, and wherewithal they should be 
clothed, it should prove intensely interesting. Apart from 
the difficulty of approach we cannot understand how it 
is so neglected by an intelligent public. You can see 
germicides and a model convict prison, Pentonville cells 
in miniature, statistical diagrams and drain pipes — if only 
there was a little more about heredity, it would be exactly 
the kind of thing that is popular in literature now, 
as literature goes. And yet excepting ourselves and the 
sleeping porter — if he was sleeping — and the indistinct 
and motionless outline, visible through a glass door, of a 
human body sitting over a book, there was not a suggestion 
or memory of living humanity about the place. 

The exhibits of food are especially remarkable. We 
cleaned the glass case with our sleeves and peered at themost 
appetising revelations. There are dozens of little bottles 
hermetically sealed, containing such curios as a sample of 
" Bacon Common (Gammon) Uncooked," and then the same 
cooked — it looked no nicer cooked — Irish sausage, pork 
sausage, black pudding, Welsh mutton, and all kinds of 
rare and exquisite feeding. There are ever so many cases 
of tins kind of thing. We saw, for instance, further along, 
several good specimens of the common oyster shell (Ostrea 
edvlis), cockle shells, and whelks, both " almonds " and 
" whites," and then came breadstuff's. The breadstuffs are 

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particularly impressive, of a grey, scientific aspect, a hard, 
hoary antiquity. We always knew that stale bread was 
good for one, but yet the Parkes Museum startled us with 
the antique pattern it recommended. There was a muffin, 
too, identified and labelled, but without any Latin name, a 
captured crumpet, a collection of buns, a dinner-roll, and 
a something novel to us, called Pumpernickel, that we 
had rather be without, or rather — for the expression is 
ambiguous — that we had rather not be without, but 
altogether remote from. And all these things have been 
tested by an analyst, with the most painful results. 
Nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen, and the like nasty chemical 
things seem indeed to have occurred in everything he 
touched. Those sturdy mendicants who go about com- 
plaining that they cannot get food should visit this 
Parkes Museum and see what food is really like, and 
learn contentment with their lot. 

There were no real vegetables, but only the ideals of a 
firm of seedsmen, made; of wax and splendidly coloured, 
with something of the boldness and vigour of Michael 
Angelo about the modelling of them. And among other 
food stuffs were sweetmeats and yellow capers, liver 
flukes, British wines, and snuff. At last we felt replete 
with food stuffs, and went on to see the models to 
illustrate ventilation, and the exhibits of hygienic 
glazed tiles arranged around a desert lecture-theatre. 
Hygienic tiles stimulate the eye vigorously rather than 
relax it by any aesthetic weakness; and the crematory 
appliances are so attractive as they are, and must have 
such an added charm of neatness and brightness when 
alight, that one longs to lose a relative or so forthwith, for 
the mere pleasure of seeing them in operation. 

A winding staircase designed upon hygienic principles, 
to bump your head at intervals, takes one to a little iron 
gallery full of the most charming and varied display of 
cooking-stoves and oil -lamps. Here, also, there are 
flaunted the resources of civilisation for the Prevention of 
Accidents, which resources are four, namely, a patent fire- 
escape, a patent carriage pole, a coal plate, and a dog 
muzzle. But the labels, though verbose, are scarcely full 

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enough. They do not tell you, for instance, if you wish 
to prevent cramp while bathing, whether the dog muzzle 
or the coal plate should be employed, nor do they show 
how the fire-escape will prevent the explosion of a 
paraffin lamp. However, this is a detail. We feel 
assured that no intelligent person will regret a visit to this 
most interesting and instructive exhibition. It offers you 
valuable hints how to live, and suggests the best and 
tidiest way in which you can, when dead, dispose of your 
body. We feel assured that the public only needs this 
intimation of its whereabouts to startle the death-like 
slumbers of Margaret Street with an unaccustomed tumult. 
And the first to arrive will, no doubt, find legibly and 
elegantly written in the dust that covers the collection 
the record of its discovery by Euphemia and me. 

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All along the selvage of Epping Forest there was 
excitement. Before the swallows, before the violets, long 
before the cuckoo, with only untimely honeysuckle bushes 
showing a trace of green, two trippers had been seen 
traversing the district, making their way towards High 
Beech, and settling awhile near the Forest Hotel. 
Whether they were belated survivals from last season or 
exceptionally early hatchings of the coming year, was a 
question of considerable moment to the natives, and has 
since engaged the attention of the local Natural History 
Society. But we know that, as a matter of fact, they 
were of little omen, being indeed but insignificant people 
from Hampstead and not true trippers at all, who were 
curious to see this forest in raw winter. 

For some have argued that there is no Epping Forest 
at all in the winter-time ; that it is, in fact, taken up and 
put away, and that agriculture is pursued there. Others 
assert that the Forest is shrouded with wrappers, even as a 
literary man's study is shrouded by dusty women when 
they clean him out. Others, again, have supposed that 
it is a delightful place in winter, far more delightful 
than in summer, but that this is not published, 
because no writing man hath ever been there in the cold 
season. And much more of unreal speculation, but 
nothing which bore upon it the stamp of truth. So these 
two — and I am one of the two — went down to Epping 
Forest to see that it was still there, and how it fared in 
the dismal weather. 

The sky was a greasy grey that guttered down to the 
horizon, and the wind smote damp and chill There was 
a white fringe of ice in the cart-wheel ruts, but withal 

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the frost was not so crisp as to prevent a thin and 
slippery glaze of softened clay upon the road. The 
decaying triumphal arch outside the station sadly lacked 
a coat of paint, and was indistinctly regretful of remote 
royal visits and processions gone for ever. Then we 
passed shuddering by many vacant booths that had once 
resounded with the revelry of ninepenny teas and the 
gingerbeer cork's staccato, and their forms were piled 
together and their trestles overturned. And the wind 
ravened, and no human beings were to be seen. So up 
the hill to the left, and along the road leading by 
devious windings between the black hedges and through 
clay wallows to the hilly part round High Beech. 

But upon the shoulder of a hill we turned to a gate to 
scrape off the mud that made our boots unwieldy. At 
that moment came a threadbare place in the cloudy 
curtain that was sweeping across the sun, and our shadows 
showed themselves for an instant to comfort us. The 
amber patch of sunlight presently slipped from us and 
travelled down the meadows towards the distant blue of 
the hills by Waltham Abbey, touching with miraculous 
healing a landscape erst dead and shrouded in grey. This 
transitory gleam of light gladdened us mightily at the 
time, but it made the after-sky seem all the darker. 

So through the steep and tortuous village to High 
Beech, and then leaving the road we wandered in among 
big trees and down slopes ankle deep with rustling leaves 
towards Chingford again. Here was pleasanter walking 
than the thawing clay, but now and then one felt the 
threat of an infinite oozy softness beneath the stiff frozen 
leaves. Once again while we were here the drifting haze 
of the sky became thinner, and the smooth green-grey 
beech stems and rugged oak trunks were brightly illumin- 
ated. But only for a moment, and thereafter the sky 
became not simply unsympathetic but ominous. And the 
misery of the wind grew apace. 

Presently we wandered into that sinister corner of the 
Forest where the beech trees have grown so closely 
together that they have had perforce to lift their branches 
vertically. Divested of leaves, the bare grey limbs of 


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these seem strangely restless. These trees, reaching so 
eagerly upward, have an odd resemblance to the weird 
figures of horror in which William Blake delighted — arms, 
hands, hair, all stretch intensely to the zenith. They 
seem to be straining away from the spot to which they 
are rooted. It is a Laocoon grouping, a wordless con- 
centrated struggle for the sunlight, and disagreeably 
impressive. The trippers longed to talk and were 
tongue-tied ; they looked now and then over their shoulders. 
They were glad when the eerie influence was passed, 
though they traversed a morass to get away from it. 

Then across an open place, dismal with the dun hulls 
of lost cows and the clatter of their bells, over a brook 
full of dead leaves and edged with rusty clay, through a 
briery thicket that would fain have detained us, and so to 
a pathway of succulent green, that oozed black under our 
feet. Here some poor lost wayfarer has blazed his way 
with rustic seats, now rheumatic and fungus-eaten. And 
here, too, the wind, which had sought us howling, found 
us at last, and stung us sharply with a shower of 
congealing raindrops. This grew to a steady downfall as 
the open towards Chingford station was approached at 
last, after devious winding in the Forest. Then, coming 
upon the edge of the wood and seeing the lone station 
against the grey sky, we broke into a shout and began 
running. But it is dismal running on imperfectly frozen 
clay, in rain and a gusty wind. We slipped and floundered, 
and one of us wept sore that she should never see her 
home again. And worse, the only train sleeping in the 
station was awakened by our cries, and, with an eldritch 
shriek at the unseasonable presence of trippers, fled 
incontinently Londonward. 

Smeared with clay and dead leaves almost beyond 
human likeness, we staggered into the derelict station, and 
found from an outcast porter that perhaps another train 
might after the lapse of two hours accumulate sufficiently 
to take us back to Gospel Oak and a warm world again. 
So we speered if there were amusements to be got in this 
place, and he told us " some very nice walks." To refrain 
from homicide we left the station, and sought a vast red 


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hotel that loomed through the drift on a steep hill, and in 
the side of this a door that had not been locked. Happily 
one had been forgotten, and, entering at last, we roused a 
hibernating waiter, and he exhumed us some of his winter 
victual. In this way we we're presently to some degree 
comforted, and could play chess until a train had been 
sent for our relief. And this did at last happen, and 
towards the hour of dinner we rejoined our anxious friends, 
and all the evening time we boasted of a pleasant day and 
urged them to go even as we had gone. 

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The nobler method of quotation is not to quote at all 
For why should one repeat good things that are already 
written ? Are not the words in their fittest context in the 
original ? Clearly, then, your new setting cannot be quite 
so congruous, which is, forthwith, an admission of 
incongruity. Your quotation is evidently a plug in a leak, 
an apology for a gap in your own words. But your 
vulgar author will even go out of his way to make the 
clothing of his thoughts thus heterogeneous. He counts 
every stolen scrap he can work in an improvement — a 
literary caddis worm. Yet would he consider it improve- 
ment to put a piece of even the richest of old tapestry or 
gold embroidery into his new pair of breeks ? 

The passion for quotation is peculiar to literature. We 
do not glory to quote our costume, dress in cast-off court 
robes, or furnish our houses from the marine store. 
Neither are we proud of alien initials on the domestic 
silver. We like things new and primarily our own. We 
have a wholesome instinct against infection, except, it 
seems, in the matter of ideas. An authorling will 
deliberately inoculate his copy with the inverted comma 
bacillus, till the page swims unsteadily, counting the fever 
a glow of pure literary healthiness. Yet this reproduction, 
rightly considered, is merely a proof that his appetite for 
books has run beyond his digestion. Or his industry may 
be to seek. You expect an omelette, and presently up 
come the unbroken eggs. A tissue of quotation wisely 
looked at is indeed but a motley garment, eloquent either 
of a fool, or an idle knave in a fool's disguise. 

Nevertheless at times — the truth must be told — we 
must quote. As for admitting that we have quoted, that 



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is another matter altogether. But the other man's phrase 
will lie at times so close in one's mind to the trend of 
one's thoughts, that, all virtue notwithstanding, they must 
needs run into the groove of it. There are phrases that 
lie about in the literary mind like orange peel on a 
pavement. You are down on them before you know 
where you are. But does this necessitate acknowledg- 
ment to the man, now in Hades, who sucked that orange 
and strewed the peel in your way ? Eather, is it not 
more becoming to be angry at his careless anticipation ? 

One may reasonably look at it in this way. What 
business has a man to think of things right in front 
of you, poke his head, as it were, into your light ? What 
right has he to set up dams and tunnel out swallow-holes 
to deflect the current of your thoughts ? Surely you may 
remove these obstructions, if it suits you, and put them 
where you will. Else all literature will presently be 
choked up, and the making of books come to an end. 
One might as well walk ten miles out of one's way because 
pome deaf oaf or other chose to sit upon a necessary stile. 
Surely Shakespeare or Lamb, or what other source you 
contemplate, has had the thing long enough 1 Out of the 
road with them. Turn and turn about. 

And inverted commas are so inhospitable. If you must 
take in another man's offspring, you should surely try to 
make the poor foundlings feel at home. Away with such 
uncharitable distinctions between the children of the 
house and the stranger within your gates. I never see 
inverted commas but I think of the necessary persecuted 
mediaeval Jew in yellow gabardine. 

At least, never put the name of the author you quote. 
Think of the feelings of the dead. Don't let the poor 
spirit take it to heart that its monumental sayings would 
pass unrecognised without your advertisement. You mean 
well, perhaps, but it is in the poorest taste. Yet I have 
seen Patience on a Monument honourably awarded to 
William Shakespeare, and fenced in by commas from all 
intercourse with the general text. 

There is something so extremely dishonest, too, in 
acknowledging quotations. Possibly the good people who 


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so contrive that such signatures as "Shakespeare," "Homer," 
or "St. Paul," appear to be written here and there to 
parts of their inferior work, manage to justify the proceed- 
ing in their conscience ; but it is uncommonly like hall- 
marking pewter on the strength of an infinitesimal tinge of 
silver therein. The point becomes at once clear if we 
imagine some obscure painter quoting the style of Raphael 
and fragments of his designs, and acknowledging his 
indebtedness by appending the master's signature. Blank 
forgery ! And a flood of light was thrown on the matter 
by a chance remark of one of Euphemia's aunts — she is a 
great reader of pure fiction — anent a popular novel : " I 
am sure it must be a nice book," said she, " or she could not 
get all these people to write the mottoes for the chapters." 
No, it is all very well to play with one's conscience. I 
have known men so sophisticated as to assert that un- 
acknowledged quotation was wrong. But very few really 
reasonable people will, I think, refuse to agree with me 
that the only artistic, the only kindly, and the only 
honest method of quotation is plagiary. If you cannot 
plagiarise, surely it were better not to quote. 


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To stay at the seaside properly, one should not think. 
But even in staying at the seaside there are intervals, 
waking moments when meals come, even if there are no 
appointed meal-times. Moreover, now and then, one must 
go to buy tobacco, a matter one can trust to no hireling, 
lest he get it dry. It cannot be always seaside, even as it 
cannot be always May, and through the gaps thought 
creeps in. Going over the cliff and along the parade, and 
down by the circulating library to the cigar divan, where 
they sell Parique tobacco, the swinging of one's legs seems 
to act like a pendulum to the clockwork of one's brain. 
One meditates all the way, and chiefly on how few people 
there are who can really — to a critical adept — be said to 
stay at the seaside. 

People seem to think that one can take a ticket to 
Eastbourne, or Bognor, or Ventnor, and come and stay at 
the seaside straight away, just as I have known new- 
hatched undergraduates tell people they were going to 
play billiards. Thousands and thousands of people think 
they have stayed at the seaside, and have not, just as 
thousands of people erroneously imagine they have played 
whist. For the latter have played not whist, but Bumble- 
puppy, and the former have only frequented a watering- 
place for a time. Tour true staying at the seaside is an 
art, demanding not only railway fares but special aptitude, 
and, moreover, needing culture, like all worthy arts. 

The most insurmountable difficulty of the beginner is 
the classical simplicity of the whole thing. To stay at 


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the seaside properly you just spread yourself out on the 
extreme edge of the land and let the sunlight soak in. 
Your eyes are fixed upon the horizon. Some have it that 
your head should be towards the sea, but the best 
authorities think that this determines blood to that 
region, and so stimulates thought. This is all the positive 
instruction ; the rest is prohibition. You must not think, 
and you must not move, neither may you go to sleep. In 
a few minutes the adept becomes as a god, even as a god 
that sits upon the lotus leaf. New light and colour come 
into the sky and sea, and the surges chant his praises. 
But those who are not of the elect get pins and needles 
all over them. 

It must be freely admitted that staying at the seaside 
such as this, staying at the seaside in its perfection, is a 
thing for a select few. You want a broad stretch of beach 
and all the visible sea to yourself. You cannot be dis- 
turbed by even the most idyllic children trying to bury 
you with sand and suchlike playfulness, nor by boat-loads 
of the democracy rowing athwart your sea and sky. And 
the absence of friend or wife goes without saying. I 
notice down here a very considerable quantity of evidently 
married pairs, and the huge majority of the rest of the 
visitors run in couples, and are to all appearances engaged. 
If they are not, I would submit that they ought to be. 
Probably there is a certain satisfaction in sitting by the 
sea with the girl you are in love with, or your wife for 
the matter of that, just as many people undoubtedly find 
tea with milk and sugar very nice. But the former is no 
more the way to get the full and perfect pleasure of stay- 
ing at the seaside than the latter is the way to get the full 
and perfect flavour of the tea. True staying at the seaside 
is neither the repetition of old conversations in new sur- 
roundings nor the exposure of one's affections to ozone. 
It is something infinitely higher. It is pure quiescence. 
It is the experience of a waking inanition savouring of 
Buddha and the divine. 

Now, staying at the seaside is so rarely done well, 
because of the littleness of man. To do it properly needs 
many of the elements of greatness. Your common man, 




while he has life in him, can let neither himself nor the 
universe alone. He must be asserting himself in some 
way, even if it is only by flinging pebbles at a stick. 
That self-forgetfulness which should be a delight is a 
terror to him. He brings dogs down to the beach to 
stand between him and the calm of nature, and yelp. He 
does worse than that. 

The meditative man going daily over by the cliff and 
along the parade, to get his ounce of tobacco, has a sad 
spectacle of what human beings may be driven to in this 
way. One sees altogether some hundreds of people there 
who have heard perhaps that staying at the seaside is 
good, and who have, anyhow, got thus far towards it, and 
stopped. They have not the faintest idea how to make 
themselves happy. The general expression is veiled 
curiosity. They sit — mostly with their backs to the sea 
— talking poorly of indifferent topics and watching one 
another. Most obviously they want hints of what to do 
with themselves. Behind them is a bank of flowers like 
those in Battersea Pa^k, and another parallel parade, and 
beyond are bathing-machines. The pier completely cuts 
the horizon out of the background. There is a stout lady, 
in dark blue, bathing. The only glances directed sea- 
ward are furtive ones at her. Many seem to be doubting 
whether this is not what they came down for.. Others 
lean dubiously to the invitations of the boatmen. Others 
again listen to vocalists and dramatic outcasts who, for 
ha'pence, render obvious the reason of their professional 
degradation. It seems eccentric to travel seventy or 
eighty miles to hear a man without a voice demonstrate 
that he is unfit to have one, but they do. Anyone 
curious in these matters need only go to a watering-place 
to see and, what is worse, to hear for himself. After an 
excursion train to Eastbourne, upwards of a thousand 
people have been seen thus heaped together over an 
oblong space of a mile long by twenty yards wide. Only 
three miles away there was a towering white cliff over- 
hanging a practically desert beach; and one seagull 
circled above one solitary, motionless, supine man, really 
staying at the seaside. 

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You cannot walk six miles anywhere along the south 
coast without coming upon one of these heaps of people, 
called a watering-place. There will be a town of houses 
behind wherein the people lodge, until, as they think, 
they have stayed a sufficient time at the sea, and they 
return, hot, cross, and mystified, to London. The sea front 
will be bricked or paved for a mile or so, and there will 
be rows of boats and bathing-machines, and other 
contrivances to screen off the view of the sea. And, as 
we have indicated, watering-places and staying by the 
seaside are incompatible things. The true stayer by the 
seaside goes into the watering-place because he must; 
because there is little food, and that uncooked, and no 
tobacco, between the cliffs and the sea. Having purchased 
what he needs he flees forth again. What time the whole 
selvage of England becomes watering-place, there will be 
no more staying by the seaside at all in the land. But 
this is a gloomy train of thought that we will not pursue. 

There have been those who assert that one end of 
staying at the seaside is bathing ; but it is easy to show 
that this is not so. Your proper bathing-place is up the 
river, where the trees bend to the green and brown 
shadows of the water. There the bath is sweet, fresh out 
of the sky, or but just filtered through the blue hills of 
the distant water-shed ; and it is set about with flowers. 
But the sea — the sea has stood there since the beginning 
of things, and with small prospect of change, says Mr. 
Kipling, to all eternity. The water in the sea, geologists 
tell us, has not been changed for fifty million years ! The 
same chemist who sets me against all my food with his 
chemical names speaks of the sea as a weak solution of 
drowned men. Be that as it may, it leaves the skin 
harsh with salt, and the hair sticky. Moreover, it is such 
a promiscuous bathing-place. However, we need scarcely 
depreciate the sea as a bath, for what need is there of 
that when the river is clearly better ? No one can deny 
that the river is better. People who bathe in the sea 
bathe by mistake, because they have come to the side of 
the sea, and know not how else to use it. 

So, too, with the boating. It is hard to imagine how 

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human beings who have drifted down streams, and 
watched the brown fish in the shallows, and peered 
through the tall sedges at the forget-me-nots, and fought 
with the ropes of the water-lilies, and heard the ripple under 
the bows, can ever think of going to and fro, pitching 
spasmodically, in front of a watering-place. And as for 
fishing — they catch fish at sea, indeed, but it is not fishing 
at all ; neither rods nor flies have they, and there is an 
end to that matter. 

An Eastbourne meditative man returning to where he 
stays, with his daily ounce of tobacco already afire, sees 
in the streets what are called by the natives "cherry- 
bangs," crowded with people, and, further, cabriolets and 
such vehicles holding parties and families. The good 
folks are driving away from the sea for the better part of 
the day, going to Battle and other places inland. The 
puzzle of what to do with their sea is too much for them, 
and they are going away for a little to rest their minds. 
Eegarded as a centre of drives one might think an inland 
place would be preferable to a seaside town, which at 
best commands but a half-circle. However that may be, 
the fact remains that one of the chief occupations of your 
common visitor to the seaside is going away from it. 
Than this fact there can be nothing more conclusive in 
support of my argument that ordinary people are 
absolutely ignorant and incapable of staying by the 


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The passion for playing chess is one of the most un- 
accountable in the world. It slaps the theory of natural 
selection in the face. It is the most absorbing of 
occupations, the least satisfying of desires, an aimless 
excrescence upon life. It annihilates a man. You have, 
let us say, a promising politician, a rising artist, that you 
wish to destroy. Dagger or bomb are archaic, clumsy, 
and unreliable — but teach him, inoculate him with chess ! 
It is well, perhaps, that the right way of teaching chess is 
so little known, that consequently in most cases the plot 
fails in the performance, the dagger turns aside. Else we 
should all be chess-players — there would be none left to do 
the business of the world. Our statesmen would sit with 
pocket boards while the country went to the devil, our 
army would bury itself in chequered contemplation, our 
bread-winners would forget their wives in seeking after 
impossible mates. The whole world would be disorganised. 
I can fancy this abominable hypnotism so wrought into 
the constitution of men that the cabmen would go trying 
to drive their horses in Knights' moves up and down 
Charing Cross Eoad. And now and again a suicide 
would come to hand with the pathetic inscription pinned 
to his chest : " I checked with my Queen too soon. I 
cannot bear the thought of it" There is no remorse like 
the remorse of chess. 

Only, happily, as we say, chess is taught the wrong 
way round. People put out the board before the learner 
with all the men in battle array, sixteen a side, with six 
different kinds of moves, and the poor wretch is simply 
crushed and appalled. A lot of things happen, mostly 
disagreeable, and then a mate comes looming up through 


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the haze of pieces. So he goes away awestricken but 
unharmed, secretly believing that all chess-players are 
humbugs, and that intelligent chess, which is neither 
chancy nor rote-learned, is beyond the wit of man. But 
clearly this is an unreasonable method of instruction. 
Before the beginner can understand the beginning of the 
game he must surely understand the end; how can he 
commence playing until he knows what he is playing for ? 
It is like starting athletes on a race, and leaving them to 
find out where the winning-post is hidden. 

Your true teacher of chess, your subtle chess-poisoner, 
your cunning Comus who changes men to chess-players, 
begins quite the other way round. He will, let us say, 
give you King, Queen, and Pawn placed out in careless 
possible positions. So you master the militant possibili- 
ties of Queen and Pawn without perplexing complications. 
Then King, Queen, and Bishop perhaps ; King, Queen, and 
Knight ; and so on. It ensures that you always play a 
winning game in these happy days of your chess childhood, 
and taste the one sweet of chess-playing, the delight of 
having the upper hand of a better player. Then to more 
complicated positions, and at last back to the formal 
beginning. You begin to see now to what end the array 
is made, and understand why one Gambit differeth from 
another in glory and virtue. And the chess mania of 
your teacher cleaveth to you thenceforth and for ever- 

It is a curse upon a man. There is no happiness in 
chess — Mr. St. George Mivart, who can find happiness in 
the strangest places, would be at a loss to demonstrate it 
upon the chess-board. The mild delight of a pretty mate 
is the least unhappy phase of it Sut, generally, you find 
afterwards that you ought to have mated two moves 
before, or at the time that an unforeseen reply takes your 
Queen. No chess-player sleeps well. After the painful 
strategy of the day one fights one's battles over again. 
You see with more than daylight clearness that it was 
the Book you should have moved, and not the Knight. 
No! it is impossible! no common sinner innocent of 
chess knows these lower deeps of remorse. Vast desert 


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boards lie for the chess-player beyond the gates of horn. 
Stalwart Rooks ram headlong at one, Knights hop side- 
long, one's Pawns are all tied, and a mate hangs threaten- 
ing and never descends. And once chess has been begun 
in the proper way, it is flesh of your flesh, bone of your 
bone ; you are sold, and the bargain is sealed, and the evil 
spirit hath entered in. 

The proper outlet for the craving is the playing of 
games, and there is a class of men — shadowy, unhappy, 
unreal-looking men — who gather in coffee-houses, and 
play with a desire that dieth not, and a fire that is not 
quenched. These gather in clubs and play Tournaments, 
such tournaments as he of the Table Round could never 
have imagined. But there are others who have the vice 
who live in country places, in remote situations — curates, 
schoolmasters, rate collectors — who go consumed from day 
to day and meet no fit companion, and who must needs 
find some artificial vent for their mental energy. No one 
has ever calculated how many sound Problems are possible, 
and no doubt the Psychical Research people would be glad 
if Professor Karl Pearson would give his mind to the 
matter. All the possible dispositions of the pieces come 
to such a vast number, however, that, according to the 
theory of probability, and allowing a few thousand 
arrangements each day, the same problem ought never to 
turn up more than twice in a century or so. As a matter 
of fact — it is probably due to some flaw in the theory of 
probability — the same problem has a way of turning up 
in different publications several times in a month or so. 
It may be, of course, that, after all, quite "sound" 
problems are limited in number, and that we keep on 
inventing and reinventing them; that, if a record were 
kept, the whole system, up to four or five moves, might be 
classified, and placed on record in the course of a few 
score years. Indeed, if we were to eliminate those with 
conspicuously bad moves, it may be we should find the 
number of reasonable games was limited enough, and that 
even our brilliant Lasker is but repeating the inspirations 
of some long-buried Persian, some mute inglorious Hindoo, 
dead and forgotten ages since. It may be over every 


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game there watches the forgotten forerunners of the 
players, and that chess is indeed a dead game, a haunted 
game, played out centuries ago, even, as beyond all cavil, 
is the game of draughts. 

The artistic temperament, the gay irresponsible cast of 
mind, does what it can to lighten the gravity of this too 
intellectual game. To a mortal there is something 
indescribably horrible in these champions with their four 
moves an hour — the bare thought of the mental operations 
of the fifteen minutes gives one a touch of headache. 
Compulsory quick moving is the thing for gaiety, and 
that is why, though we revere Steinitz and Lasker, it is • 
Bird we love. His victories glitter, his errors are magnifi- 
cent The true sweetness of chess, if it ever can be sweet, 
is to see a victory snatched, by some happy impertinence, 
out of the shadow of .apparently irrevocable disaster. 
And talking of cheerfulness reminds me of Lowson's 
historical game of chess. Lowson said he had been cheer- 
ful sometimes — but, drunk ! Perish the thought ! Chal- 
lenged, he would have proved it by some petty tests of 
pronunciation, some Good Templar's shibboleths. He 
offered to walk along the kerb, to work any problem in 
mathematics we could devise, finally to play MacBryde 
at chess. The other gentleman was appointed judge, and 
after putting the antimacassar over his head ("jush 
wigsh ") immediately went to sleep in a disorderly heap 
on the sofa. The game was begun very solemnly, so I 
am told. MacBryde, in describing it to me afterwards, 
swayed his hands about with the fingers twiddling in a 
weird kind of way, and said the board went like that. 
The game was fierce but brief. It was presently dis- 
covered that both kings had been taken. Lowson was 
hard to convince, but this came home to him. "Man," 
he is reported to have said to MacBryde, " I'm just drunk. 
There's no doubt in the matter. I'm feeling very ashamed 
of myself." It was accordingly decided to declare the 
game drawn. The position, as I found it next morning, 
is an interesting one. Lowson's Queen was at K Kt 6, 
his Bishop at Q B 3, he had several Pawns, and his Knight 
occupied a commanding position at the intersection of 

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four squares. MacBryde had four Pawns, two Rooks, a -tf 

Queen, a draught, and a small mantel ornament arranged 
in a rough semicircle athwart the board. I have no 
doubt chess exquisites will sneer at this position, but in 
my opinion it is one of the cheerfulest I have ever seen. 
I remember I admired it very much at the time, in spite 
of a slight headache, and it is still the only game of chess 
that I recall with undiluted pleasure. And yet I have 
played many games. I 


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Euphemia, who loves to have home dainty and delightful, 
would have no coals if she could dispense with them, 
much less a coal-scuttle. Indeed, it would seem she 
would have no fireplace at all, if she had her will. All 
the summer she is happy, and the fireplace is anything 
but the place for a fire; the fender has vanished, the 
fireirons are gone, it is draped and decorated and dis- 
guised. So would dear Euphemia drape and disguise 
the whole iron framework of the world, with that decora- 
tive and decent mind of hers, had she but the scope. 
There are exotic ferns there, spreading their fanlike 
fronds, and majolica glows and gleams; and fabrics, of 
which Morris is the actual or spiritual begetter, delight 
the eye. In summer-time our fireplace is indeed a thing 
of beauty, but, alas for the solar system ! it is not a joy 
for ever. The sun at last recedes beyond the equinoxes, 
and the black bogey who has slept awakens again. 
Euphemia restores the fender kerb- and the brazen dogs and 
the fireirons that will clatter ; and then all the winter, when- 
ever she sits before the fire, her trouble is with her. Even 
when the red glow of the fire lights up her features most 
becomingly, and flattery is in her ear, every now and then 
a sidelong glance at her ugly foe shows that the thought 
of it is in her mind, and that the crumpled roseleaf, if 
such a phrase may be used for a coal-scuttle, insists on 
being felt. And she has even been discovered alone, sit- 
ting elbows on knees, and chin on her small clenched fist, 
frowning at it, puzzling how to circumvent the one enemy 
of her peace. 

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" It " is what Euphemia always calls this utensil, when 
she can bring herself to give the indescribable an imperfect 
vent in speech. But commonly the feeling is too deep for 
words. Her war with this foeman in her household, this 
coarse rebel in her realm of soft prettiness, is one of those 
silent ones, those grim struggles without outcry or threat 
or appeal for quarter that can never end in any com- 
promise, never find a rest in any truce, except the utter 
defeat of her antagonist. And how she has tried — the 
happy thoughts, the faint hopes, the new departures and 
outflanking movements ! And even to-day there the thing 
defies her — a coal-box, with a broad smile that shows its 
black teeth, thick and squat, filling a snug corner and 
swaggering in unmanly triumph over the outrage upon 
her delicacy that it commits. 

One of Euphemia's brightest ideas was to burn wood. 
Logs make even a picturesque pile in a corner — look 
" uncommon." But there are objections to wood. Wood 
finely divided burns with gay quirks and jets of flame, 
and making cheerful crackling noises the while ; but its 
warmth and brightness are as evanescent as love's young 
dream. And your solid log has a certain irritating inert- 
ness. It is an absentee fuel, spending its fire up the 
chimney, and after its youthful clouds of glory turns but 
a cheerless side of black and white char towards the room. 
And, above all, the marital mind is strangely exasperated 
by the log. Smite it with the poker, and you get but a 
sullen resonance, a flight of red sparks, a sense of an 
unconquerable toughness. It is worse than coke. The 
crisp fracture of coal, the spitting flames suddenly leaping 
into existence from the shiny new fissures, are altogether 
wanting. Old-seasoned timber burns indeed most delight- 
fully, but then it is as ugly as coal, and withal very dear. 
So Euphemia went back to coal again with a sigh. 
Possibly if Euphemia had been surrounded by the wealth 
she deserves this trouble would not have arisen. A silent 
servant, bearing the due dose of fresh ,fuel, would have 
come gliding from a mysterious Beneath, restored the 
waning animation of the grate, and vanished noiselessly 
again. But this was beyond the range of Euphemia's 

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possibilities. And so we are face to face with this problem 
of the scuttle again. 

At first she would feign there was no such thing as coal. 
It was too horrible. Only a Zola would admit it. It was 
the epoch of concealment. The thing purchased was like 
a little cupboard on four legs; it might have held any 
convenient trifle ; and there was a shelf upon the top and 
a book of poetry and a piece of crackled Satsuma. You 
took a little brass handle and pulled it down, and the 
front of the little cupboard came forward, and there you 
found your coal. But a dainty little cupboard can no 
more entertain black coal and inelegant firewood and 
keep its daintiness than a mind can entertain black 
thoughts and yet be sweet. This cabinet became de- 
moralised with amazing quickness ; it became incontinent 
with its corruptions, a hinge got twisted, and after a time 
it acquired the habit of suddenly, and with an unpleasant 
oscillatory laughing noise, opening of its own accord and 
proclaiming its horrid secret to Euphemia's best visitors. 
An air of wickedness, at once precocious and senile, came 
upon it ; it gaped and leered at Euphemia as the partner 
of her secret with such a familiar air of " I and you " that 
she could stand it no longer, and this depraved piece of 
furniture was banished at last from her presence, and 
relegated to its proper sphere of sham gentility below 
stairs, where it easily passed itself upon the cook as an 
exquisite. Euphemia tried to be sensible then, and 
determined, since she must have coal in her room, to let 
no false modesty intervene, but to openly proclaim its 
presence to all the world. 

The next thing, therefore, was a cylinder of brass, 
broadly open above, saying to the world, as it were, 
"Look! I contain coal." And there were brass tongs 
like sugar tongs wherewith Euphemia would regale the 
fire and brighten it up, handing it a lump at a time in the 
prettiest way. But brass dints. The brazen thing was 
quiet and respectable enough upstairs, but ever and again 
it went away to be filled. What happened on these 
holiday jaunts Euphemia has never ascertained. But a 
chance blow or worse cause ran a crease athwart the 


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forehead of the thing, and below an almost imperceptible 
bulging hinted at a future corpulency. And there was 
complaint of the quantity of polishing it needed, and an 
increasing difficulty in keeping it bright. And except 
when it was full to the brim, the lining was unsightly ; 
and this became more so. One day Ithuriel must have 
visited Euphemia's apartment, and the tarnished brilliancy 
of the thing stood confessed. For some days there was an 
interregnum, and a coal-scuttle from downstairs — a black 
unstable thing on flat foot and with a vast foolish nether 
lip — did its duty with inelegant faithfulness. 

Then Euphemia had a really pretty fancy. She procured 
one of those big open garden baskets and painted it apleasant 
brown, and instead of a garden fork she had a little half 
horticultural scoop. In this basket she kept her coals, 
and she tied a pink ribbon on the handle. One might 
fancy she had been in some dewy garden and had dug a 
few coals as one might dig up bulbs, and brought them in 
and put them down. It attracted attention from all her 
visitors, and set a kind of fashion in the neighbourhood. 
For a time Euphemia was almost contented. But one 
day a malignant , woman called, and looked at this device 
through her gilt eye-glasses, while she secretly groped in 
the dark of her mind for an unpleasant thing to say. 
Then suddenly she remarked, " Why not put your coal in 
a bassinette ? Or keep it all on the floor ? " Euphemia's 
face fell. The thing was undeniably very like a cradle, in 
the light of this suggestion ; the coal certainly did seem 
a little out of place there ; and besides, if there were more 
than three or four lumps they had a way of tumbling over 
the edge upon the carpet when the fire was replenished. 
The tender shoot of Euphemia's satisfaction suddenly 
withered and died. 

So the struggle has gone on. Sometimes it has been a 
wrought iron tripod with a subtle tendency to upset in 
certain directions ; sometimes a coal-box ; once even the 
noisy old coal-box of japanned tin, making more noise 
than a Salvation Army service, and strangely decorated 
with " art " enamels, had a turn. At present Euphemia 
is enduring a walnut " casket," that since its first week of 


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office has displayed an increasing indisposition to shut. 
But things cannot stay like this. The worry and anxiety 
and vexation, Eupheinia declares, are making her old 
before her time. A delicate woman should not be left 
alone to struggle against brazen monsters. A closed gas 
stove is happily impossible, but the husband of the 
household is threatened with one of those beastly sham 
fires, wherein gas jets flare among firebrick — a mechanical 
fire without vitality or variety, that never dances nor 
crackles nor blazes, a monotonous horror, a fire you cannot 
poke. That is what it will certainly come to if the 
problem remains unsolved. 

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Frankly, I detest this Bagarrow. Yet it is quite 
generally conceded that Bagarrow is a very well-meaning 
fellow. But the trouble is to understand him. To do 
that I have been at some pains, and yet I am still a mere 
theorist. An anthropometric estimate of the man fails to 
reveal any reason for the distinction of my aversion. He 
is of passable height, breadth, and density, and, save for 
a certain complacency of expression, I find no salient 
objection in his face. He has bluish eyes and a whitish 
skin, and average-coloured hair — none of them distinctly 
indictable possessions. It is something in his interior 
and unseen mechanism, I think, that must be wrong; 
some internal lesion that finds expression in his acts. 

His mental operations, indeed, were at first as incon- 
ceivable to me as a crab's or a cockchafer's. That is where 
all the trouble came in. For that reason alone they 
fascinated me and aggrieved me. From the conditions of 
our acquaintance — we were colleagues — I had to study 
him with some thoroughness, observing him under these 
circumstances and those. I have, by the bye, sometimes 
wondered idly how he would react to alcohol — a fluid he 
avoids. It would, I am sure, be an entirely novel and 
remarkable kind of Drunk, and I am also certain it would 
be an offensive one. But I can't imagine it ; I have no 
data. I could as soon evolve from my inner consciousness 
an intoxicated giraffe. But, as I say, this interesting 
experience has hitherto been denied me. 

Now my theory of Bagarrow is this, that he has a kind 
of disease in his ideals, some interruption of nutrition that 
has left them small and emasculate. He aims, it appears, 
at a state called " Really Nice " or the " True Gentleman," 


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the outward and visible signs of which are a conspicuous 
quietness of costume, gloves in all weathers, and a tightly- 
rolled umbrella. But coupled in some way with this is a 
queer smack of the propagandist, a kind of dwarfed 
prophetic passion. That is the particular oddness of him. 
He displays a timid yet persistent desire to foist this 
True Gentleman of his upon an unwilling world, to make 
you Beally Nice after his own pattern. I always suspect 
him of trying to convert me by stealth when I am not 

So far as I can see, Bagarrow's conception of this True 
Gentleman of his is at best a compromise, mainly holiness, 
but a tinted kind of holiness — goodness in clean cuffs and 
with something neat in ties. He renounces the flesh and 
the devil willingly enough, but he wants to keep up a 
decent appearance. Now a stark saint I can find 
sympathy for. I respect your prophet unkempt $md in a 
hair shirit denouncing Sin — and mundane affairs in 
general — with hoarse passion and a fiery hate. I would 
not go for my holidays with nor make a domestic pet of 
such a man, but I respect him. But Bagarrow's pose is 
different. Bagarrow would call that carrying things to 
extremes. His is an unobtrusive virtue, a compromising 
dissent, inaggressive aggressions on sin. So I take it. 
And at times he puts it to you in a drawling argument, 
a stream of Bagarrowisms, until you have to hurt his 
feelings — happily he is always getting his feelings hurt — 
just to stop the flow of him. 

" Life," said Bagarrow, in a moment of expansiveness, 
"is scarcely worth living unless you are doing good to 
someone." That I take to be the keystone of him. " I 
want to be a Good Influence upon all the people I meet." 
I do not think it has ever dawned upon him that he 
himself is any way short of perfection ; and, so far as I 
can see, the triumph and end of his good influence is 
cleanliness of cuff, compactness of umbrella, and general 
assimilation to the Bagarrow ideal 

Hear him upon one's social duties — this living soul in 
this world of wonders ! " In moderation," said Bagarrow, 
opening out to questions on that matter, " social relaxation 

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is desirable, and I will even go so far as to admit that I 
think it well to have at hand some pleasant expedient for 
entertaining people and , passing the time. A humorous 
song or a recitation — provided it is in really good taste — 
is harmless enough, and sometimes it may even be turned 
to good account. And everyone should try to master 
some instrument or other. The flute, perhaps, is as 
convenient as any ; for the fiddle and piano, you know, are 
difficult and expensive to learn, and require constant 
practice. A little legerdemain is also a great acquisition 
for a man. Some may differ from me in that," continued 
Bagarrow, " but I see no harm in it. There are hundreds 
of perfectly proper and innocent tricks with coins and bits 
of paper, and pieces of string, that will make an evening 
pass most delightfully. One may get quite a little 
reputation as an entertainer with these things." 

"And it is," pursued Bagarrow, quite glowing with 
liberality, "just a little pharisaical to object to card tricks. 
There are quantities of really quite clever and 
mathematical things that one may do with a chosen card, 
dealing the pack into heaps and counting slowly. Of 
course it is not for mere pleasuring that I learn these 
things. It gives anyone with a little tact an opportunity 
for stopping card -playing. When the pack is brought in, and 
all the party are intent upon gaming, you may seize your 
opportunity and take the cards, saying, ' Let me show you 
a little trick/ or, ' Have you seen Maskelyne's new trick 
with the cards ? ' Before anyone can object you are dis- 
playing your skill to their astonished eyes, and in their 
wonder at your cleverness the objectionable game may be 
indefinitely postponed." 

" Yet so set at times is your gambler upon his abominable 
pursuit," says Bagarrow, "that in practice even this 
ingenious expedient has been known to fail." He tried it 
once, it seems, in a race train to Kempton Park, and 
afterwards he had to buy a new hat. That incident, 
indeed, gives you the very essence of Bagarrow in his 
insidious attacks on evil. I remember that on another 
occasion he went out of his way to promise a partially 
intoxicated man a drink ; and taking him into a public- 

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house ordered two lemon squashes ! Drinks ! He liked 
lemon squash himself and he did not like beer, and he 
thought he had only to introduce the poor fallen creature 
to the delights of temperance to ensure his conversion 
there and then. I think he expected the man to fall 
upon him, crying " My benefactor ! " But he did not say 
"My benefactor," at anyrate, though he fell upon him, 
cheerfully enough. 

To avoid the appearance of priggishness, which he 
dreads with some reason, he even went so far as to 
procure a herb tobacco, which he smokes with the 
help of frequent sulphur matches. This he recommends 
to us strongly. "Won't you try it?" he says, with a 
winning smile. " Just once." And he is the only man I 
ever met who drinks that facetious fluid, non-alcoholic 
beer. Once he proposed to wean me upon that from my 
distinctive vice, which led indeed to our first rupture. 
" / find it delicious," he said in pathetic surprise. 

It is one of his most inveterate habits to tell you 
quietly what he does, or would do under the 
circumstances. Seeing you at Kipling, he will propound 
the proposition that "all true literature has a distinct 
aim." His test of literary merit is " What good does it 
do you ? " He is a great lender of books, especially of 
Carlyle and Euskin, which authors for some absolutely 
inscrutable reason he considers provocative of Bagarrowism, 
and he goes to the County Council lectures on dairy-work, 
because it encourages others to improve themselves. 
But I have said enough to display him, and of Bagarrow 
at least — as I can well testify — it is easy to have more 
than enough. Indeed, after whole days with him I have 
gone home to dream of the realisation of his ideals, a sort 
of Bagarrow millennium, a world of Bagarrows. All 
kinds of men — Falstaffs, Don Quixotes, Alan Stewarts, 
John the Baptists, John Knoxes, Quilps, and Benvenuto 
Cellinis — all, so to speak, Bagarrowed, all with clean 
cuffs, tight umbrellas, and temperate ways, passing 
to and fro in a regenerate earth. 

And so he goes on his way through this wonderful 
universe with his eyes fixed upon two or three secondary 


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things, without the lust or pride of life, without curiosity 
or adventure, a mere timid missionary of a religion of 
" Nicer Ways," a quiet setter of a good example. I can 
assure you this is no exaggeration, but a portrait. It 
seems to me that the thing must be pathological, that he 
and this goodness of his have exactly the same claim upon 
Lombroso, let us say, as the born criminal. He is born 
good, a congenital good example, a sufferer from atrophy 
of his original sin. The only hope I can see for 
Bagarrow, short of murder, is forcible trepanning. He 
ought to have ttje seat of his ideals lanced, and all this 
wash about doing good to people by stealth taken away. 
It may be he might prove a very decent fellow then — if 
there was anything left of him, that is. 

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I have been bothered about this book this three months. 
I have written scarcely anything since Llewellyn asked 
me for it, for when he asked me I had really nothing on 
hand. I had just published every line I had ever written, 
at my own expense, with Prigsbys. Yet three months 
should suffice for one of Llewellyn's books, which consist 
chiefly of decorous fly-leaves and a dedication or so, and 
margins. Of course you know Llewellyn's books — the 
most delightful things in the market : the sweetest covers, 
with little gilt apples and things carelessly distributed 
over luminous grey, and bright red initials, and all these 
delightful fopperies. But it was the very slightness of 
these bibelots that disorganised me. And perhaps, also, 
the fact that no one has ever asked me for a book before. 

I had no trouble with the title though — " Lichens." I 
have wondered the thing was never used before. Lichens, 
variegated, beautiful, though on the most arid foundations, 
half fungoid, half vernal — the very name for a booklet 
of modern verse. And that, of course, decided the key 
of the cover and disposed of three or four pages. 
A fly-leaf, a leaf with "Lichens" printed fair and 
beautiful a little to the left of the centre, then a title-page 
—"lichens. By H. G. Wells. London: MPCCCXCV. 
Stephen Llewellyn. " Then a restful blank page, and then — 
the Dedication. It was the dedication stopped me. The 
title-page, it is true, had some points of difficulty. Should 
the Christian name be printed in full or not, for instance ; 
but it had none of the fatal fascination of the dedicatory 
page. I had, so to speak, to look abroad among the ranks 
of men, and make one of those fretful forgotten millions — 
immortal. It seemed a congenial task. 


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I went to work forthwith. 

It was only this morning that I realised the magnitude 
of my accumulations. Ever since then — it was three 
months ago — I have been elaborating this Dedication. I 
turned the pile over, idly at first. Presently I became 
interested in tracing my varying moods, as they had 
found a record in the heap. 

This struck me — 

Then again, a little essay in gratitude came to hand — 

Professor Augustus Flood, 
Whose Admirable Lectures on 


First turned my Attention to 


There was a tinge of pleasantry in the latter that 
pleased me very greatly when I wrote it, and I find 
immediately overlying it another essay in the same 
line — 

To the Latter-day Reviewer, 
These Pearls. 

For some days I was smitten with the idea of dedicat- 

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ing my little booklet to one of my numerous personal 
antagonists, and conveying some subtly devised insult 
with an air of magnanimity. I thought, for instance, of 
Blizzard — 

Sir Joseph Blizzabd, 

The most distinguished, if not the greatest, of contemporary 


I think it was " X. L/s " book, Avi Diaholus aut 
Nihil, that set me upon another line. There is, after 
all, your reader to consider in these matters, your average 
middle-class person to impress in some way. They say 
the creature is a snob, and absolutely devoid of any 
tinge of humour, and I must confess that I more than 
half believe it. At anyrate, it was that persuasion 
inspired — 

To the Countess of X., 
In Memory of Many Happy Days. 

I know no Countess of X., as a matter of fact, but if the 
public is such an ass as to think better of my work for 
the suspicion, I do not care how soon I incur it. And 
this again is a pretty utilisation of the waste desert of 
politics — 

My Deab Salisbuby, — Pray accept this unworthy tribute of my 
affectionate esteem. 

There were heaps of others. And looking at those 
heaps it suddenly came sharp and vivid before my mind 
that there — there was the book I needed, already written] 
A blank page, a dedication, a blank page, a dedication, 
and so on. I saw no reason to change the title. It only 
remained to select the things, and the book was done. I 
set to work at once, and in a very little while my bibelot 
was selected. There were dedications fulsome and fluid, 
dedications acrid and uncharitable, dedications in verse 
and dedications in the dead languages: all sorts and 
conditions of dedications, even the simple "To J. H. 
Gabbles" — so suggestive of the modest white stones of 
the village churchyard. Altogether I picked out one 


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hundred and three dedications. At last only one thing 
remained to complete the book. And that was — the 
Dedication. You will scarcely credit it, but that worries 
me still. . . . 

I am almost inclined to think that Dedications are 
going out of fashion. 

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This dabbler person has recently disposed of his camera 
and obtained a microscope — a short, complacent-looking 
implement it is, of brass — and he goes about everywhere 
now with little glass bottles in his pocket, ready to jump 
upon any stray polly-woggle he may find, and hale it 
home and pry into its affairs. Within his study window 
are perhaps half a dozen jars and basins full of green 
scum and choice specimens of black mud in which his 
victims live. He persists in making me look through 
this instrument, though I would rather I did not It 
seems to me a kind of impropriety even when I do it. 
He gets innumerable things in a drop of green water, 
and puts it on a glass slip under the object glass, and, of 
course, they know nothing of the change in their condition, 
and go on living just as they did before they were ob- 
served. It makes me feel at times like a public moralist, 
or Peeping Tom of Coventry, or some such creature. 

Certainly there are odd things enough in the water. 
Among others, certain queer green things that are neither 
plants nor animals. Most of the time they are plants, 
quiet green threads matted together, but every now and 
then the inside comes out of one, so to speak, and starts 
off with a fine red eye and a long flickering tail, to see 
the world. The dabbler says it's quite a usual thing 
among the lower plants— ^4^ he calls them, for some 
reason — to disgorge themselves in this way and go swim- 
ming about ; but it has quite upset my notions of things. 
If the lower plants, why not the higher ? It may be my 
abominable imagination, but since he told me about these 



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— swarm spores I think he called them — I don't feel 
nearly so safe with my geraniums as I did. 

A particularly objectionable thing in these water drops, 
the dabbler insists upon my spying at is the furious 
activity of everything you see in them. You look down 
his wretched tube, and there, bright and yellow with the 
lamplight in the round field of the microscope, is a perfect 
riot of living things. Perhaps it's the water he got from 
Hampstead, and a dozen flat things the shape of short- 
breads will be fussing about. They are all quite trans- 
parent and colourless, and move about like galleys by 
means of a lot of minute oars that stick out all over 
them. Never a moment's rest. And, presently, one sees 
that even the green plant threads are wriggling across 
the field. The dabbler tries to moralise on this in the 
vein of Charles Kingsley, and infer we have much to 
learn from these ridiculous creatures ; but, so far as I can 
see, it's a direct incentive to sloth to think* how low in 
the scale of creation these things are, in spite of all their 
fussing. If they had sat about more and thought, they 
might be fishing the dabbler out of ponds and examining 
him instead of his examining them. Your energetic people 
might do worse things than have a meditative half-hour 
at the microscope. Then there are green things with a 
red spot and a tail, that creep about like slugs, and are 
equally transparent. Euglena viridis the dabbler calls 
them, which seems unnecessary information. In fact 
all the things he shows me are transparent Even the 
little one-eyed Crustacea, the size of a needle-point, that 
discredit the name of Cyclops. You can see their 
digestion and muscle and nerve, and, in fact, everything. 
It's at least a blessing we are not the same. Fancy the 
audible comments of the temperance advocate when you 
get in the bus ! No use pulling yourself together then. 
"Pretty full!" And "Look," people would say, "his 
wife gives him cold mutton." 

Speaking of the name of Cyclops reminds me that these 
scientific people have been playing a scurvy trick upon 
the classics behind our backs. It reminds one of Episte- 
mon's visit to Hades, when he saw Alexander a patcher 


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of clouts and Xerxes a crier of mustard. Aphrodite, the 
dabbler tells me, is a kind of dirty mud-worm, and much 
dissected by spectacled pretenders to the London B.Sc; 
every candidate, says the syllabus, must be able to dissect, 
to the examiner's satisfaction, and demonstrate upon 
Aphrodite, Nereis, Palaemon. Were the gods ever so 
insulted? Then the snaky Medusa and Pandora, our 
mother, are jelly-fish ; Astrsea is still to be found on coral . 
reefs, a poor thing, and much browsed upon by parrot 
fish; and Doris and Tethys and Cydippe are sea slugs. 
It's worse than Heine's vision of the gods grown old. 
They can't be content with the departed gods merely. 
Evadne is a water flea — they'll make something out of 
Mrs. Sarah Grand next ; and Autolycus, my Autolycus ! 
is a polymorphic worm, whatever subtlety of insult 
"polymorphic worm" may convey. 

However, I wander from the microscope. These short- 
bread things are fussing about hither and thither across 
the field, and now and then an amoeba comes crawling 
into view. These are invertebrate jelly-like things of no 
particular shape, and they keep on thrusting out a part 
here, and withdrawing a part there, and changing and 
advancing just as though they were popular democratic 
premiers. Then diatoms keep gliding athwart the circle. 
These diatoms are, to me at least, the most perplexing 
things in the universe. Imagine a highly ornamental 
thing in white and brown, the shape of a spectacle case, 
without any limbs or other visible means of progression, 
and without any wriggling of the body, or indeed any 
apparent effort at all, gliding along at a smart pace. 
That's your diatom. The dabbler really knows nothing 
of how they do it. He mumbles something about Butschfi 
and Grenfell. Imagine the thing on a larger scale, 
Cleopatra's Needle, for instance, travelling on its side up 
the Thames Embankment, and all unchaperoned, at the 
rate of four or five miles an hour. 

There's another odd thing about these microscope 

things which redeems, to some extent at least, their 

singular frankness. To use the decorous phrase of the 

text-book, "They multiply by fission." Your amoeba or 


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vorbicella, as the case may be, splits in two. Then there 
are two amoebae or vorticellae. In this way the necessity 
of the family, that middle-class institution so abhorrent to 
the artistic mind, is avoided. In my friend's drop of 
ditch-water, as in heaven, there is neither marrying nor 
giving in marriage. There are no waste parents, which 
should appeal to the scholastic mind, and the simple 
protozoon has none of that fitful fever of falling in love, 
that distressingly tender state that so bothers your mortal 
man. They go about their business with an enviable 
singleness of purpose, and when they have eaten and 
drunk, and attained to the fulness of life, they divide and 
begin again with renewed zest the pastime of living. 

In a sense they are immortal. For we may look at 
this matter in another light, and say our exuberant 
protozoon has shed a daughter, and remains. In that case 
the amoeba I look at may have crawled among the slime 
of the Silurian seas when the common ancestor of myself 
and the royal family was an unassuming mud-fish like 
those in the reptile house in the Zoo. His memoirs 
would be interesting. The thought gives a solemn tint 
to one's meditations. If the dabbler wash him off this 
slide into his tube of water again, this trivial creature 
may go on feeding and growing and dividing, and presently 
be thrown away to wider waters, and so escape to live 
jtf . . after I am dead, after my masterpieces are forgotten, 
after our Empire has passed away, after the human animal 
has passed through I know not what vicissitudes. It may 
be he will still, with the utmost nonchalance, be pushing 
out his pseudopodia, and ingesting diatoms when the 
fretful transitory life of humanity has passed altogether 
from the earth. One may catch him in specimen tubes 
by the dozen; but still, when one thinks of this, it is 
impossible to deny him a certain envious, if qualified, 

And all the time these creatures are living their 
vigorous, fussy little lives ; in this drop of water they are 
being watched by a creature of whose presence they do 
not dream, who can wipe them all out of existence with a 
stroke of his thumb, and who is withal as finite, and 


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sometimes as fussy and unreasonably energetic, as them- 
selves. He sees them, and they do not see him, because 
he has senses they do not possess, because he is too 
incredibly vast and strange to come, save as an over- 
whelming catastrophe, into their lives. Even so, it may 
be, the dabbler himself is being curiously observed. . . . 
The dabbler is good enough to say that the suggestion is 
inconceivable. I can imagine a decent amoeba saying the 
same thing. 

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Your cultivated man is apt to pity the respectable poor, 
on the score of their lack of small excitements, and even 
in the excess of his generous sympathy to go a Toynbee- 
Halling in their cause. And Sir Walter Besant once 
wrote a book about Hoxton, saying, among other things, 
how monotonous life was there. That is your modern 
fallacy respecting the lower middle class. One might 
multiply instances. The tenor of the pity is always the 

" No music," says the cultivated man, " no pictures, no 
books to read nor leisure to read in. How can they pass 
their lives?" 

The answer is simple enough, as Emily Bronte knew. 
They quarrel And an excellent way of passing the time 
it is; so excellent, indeed, that the pity were better 
inverted. But we all lack the knowledge of our chiefest 
needs. In the first place, and mainly, it is hygienic to 
quarrel, it disengages floods of nervous energy, the pulse 
quickens, the breathing is accelerated, the digestion im- 
proved. Then it sets one's stagnant brains astir and 
quickens the imagination ; it clears the mind of vapours, as 
thunder clears the air. Aiid, finally, it is a natural function 
of the body. In his natural state man is always quarrel- 
ling — by instinct. Not to quarrel is indeed one of the 
vices of our civilisation, one of the reasons why we are 
neurotic and anaemic, and all these things. And, at last, 
our enfeebled palates have even lost the capacity for 
enjoying a "jolly good row." 

There ean be no more melancholy sight in the world 
than that of your young man or young woman suffering 
from suppressed pugnacity. Up to the end of the school 


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years it was well with them ; they had ample scope for 
this wholesome commerce, the neat give and take of 
offence. In the family circle, too, there are still plentiful 
chances of acquiring the taste. Then, suddenly, they 
must be gentle and considerate, and all the rest of it. A 
wholesome shindy, so soon as toga and long skirts arrive, 
is looked upon as positively wrong; even the dear old 
institution of the "cut" is falling into disrepute. The 
quarrelling is all forced back into the system, as it were ; 
it poisons the blood. This is why our literature grows 
sinister and bitter, and our daughters yearn after this and 
that, write odd books, and ride about on bicycles in 
remarkable clothes. They have shut down the safety 
valve, they suffer from the present lamentable increase of 
gentleness. They must find some outlet, or perish. If 
they could only put their arms akimbo and t^ll each 
other a piece of their minds for a little, in the ancient 
way, there can be not the slightest doubt that much of 
this Jin-de-sidcle unwholesomeness would disappear. 

Possibly this fashion of gentleness will pass. Yet it 
has had increasing sway now]f or some years. An unhealthy 
generation has arisen — among the more educated class at 
least — that quarrels little, regards the function as a vice 
or a nuisance, as the East-ender does a taste for fine art 
or literature. We seem indeed to be getting altogether 
out of the way of it. Rare quarrels, no doubt, occur to 
everyone, but rare quarrelling is no quarrelling at all. 
Like beer, smoking, sea-bathing, cycling, and the like 
delights, you cannot judge of quarrelling by the early 
essay. But to show how good it is — did you ever know a 
quarrelsome person give up the use ? Alcohol you may 
wean a man from, and Barrie says he gave up the 
Arcadia Mixture, and De Quincey conquered opium. 
But once you are set as a quarreler you quarrel and 
quarrel till you die. 

How to quarrel well and often has ever -been something 
of an art, and it becomes more of an art with the general 
decline of spirit. For it takes two to make a quarrel. 
Time was when you turned to the handiest human being, 
and with small care or labour had the comfortable warmth 


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you needed in a minute or so. There was theology, even 
in the fifties it was ample cause with two out of three you 
met. Now people will express a lamentable indifference. 
Then politics again, but a little while ago fat for the fire 
of any male gathering, is now a topic of mere tepidity. 
So you are forced to be more subtle, more patient in your 
quarrelling. You play like a little boy playing cricket 
with his sisters, with those who do not understand. A 
fellow-votary is a rare treat. As a rule you have to lure 
and humour your antagonist like a child. The wooing is 
as intricate and delicate as any wooing can well be. To 
quarrel now, indeed, requires an infinity of patience. 
The good old days of thumb-biting — " Do you bite your 
thumbs at us, sir ? " and so to clash and stab — are gone 
for ever. 

There are certain principles in quarrelling, however, 
that the true quarreller ever bears in mind, and which, 
duly observed, do much to facilitate encounters. In the 
first place, cultivate Distrust. Have always before you 
that this is a wicked world, full of insidious people, and 
you never know what villainous encroachments upon you 
may be hidden under fair-seeming appearances. That is 
the flavour of it. At the first suspicion, "stick up for 
your rights," as the vulgar say. And see that you do it 
suddenly. Smite promptly, and the surprise and sting of 
your injustice should provoke an excellent reply. And 
where there is least ground for suspicion, there, remember, 
is the most. The right hand of fellowship extended 
towards you is one of the best openings you have. " Not 
such a fool," is the kind of attitude to assume, and " You 
don't put upon me so easy." Your adversary resents this 
a little, and, rankling, tries to explain. You^ find a 
personal inference in the expostulation. 

Next to a wariness respecting your interests is a keen 
regard for your honour. Have concealed in the privacy 
of your mind a code of what is due to you. Expand or 
modify it as occasion offers. Be as it were a collector of 
what are called "slights," and never let one pass you. 
Watch your friend in doorways, passages ; when he eats 
by you, when he drinks with you, when he addresses you, 


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when he writes you letters. It will be hard if you cannot 
catch him smuggling some deadly insult into your presence. 
Tax him with it. He did not think, forsooth ! Tell him 
no gentleman would do such a thing, thinkmgly or not ; 
that you certainly will not stand it again. Say you will 
show him. He will presently argue or contradict. So to 
your climax. 

Then, again, there is the personal reference. " Meaning 
me, sir?" Your victim with a blithe heart babbles of 
this or that. You let him meander here and there, 
watching him as if you were in ambush. Presently he 
comes into your spring. "Of course," you say, "I saw 
what you were driving at just this minute, when you 
mentioned mustard in salad dressing, but if I am peppery 
I am not mean. And if I have a thing to say I say it 
straight out." A good gambit this, and well into him 
from the start. The particular beauty of this is that you 
get him apologetic at first, and can score heavily before 
he rises to the defensive. 

Then, finally, there is your abstract cause, once very 
fruitful indeed, but now sadly gone in decay, except 
perhaps in specialist society. As an example, let there 
be one who is gibing genially at some topic or other, at 
Japanese king-crabs, or the inductive process, or any 
other topic which cannot possibly affect you one atom. 
Then is the time to drop all these merely selfish interests, 
and to champion the cause of truth. Fall upon him in a 
fine glow of indignation, and bring your contradiction 
across his face — whack ! — so that all the table may hear. 
Tell him, with his pardon, that the king-crab is no more 
a crab than you are a jelly-fish, or that Mill has been 
superseded these ten years. Ask: "How can you say 
such tfiitigs ? " From thence to his general knowledge is 
a short flight, and so to his veracity, his reasoning powers, 
his mere common sense. " Let me tell you, sir," is the 
special incantation for the storm. 

These are the four chief ways of quarrelling, the four 
gates to this delightful city. For it is delightful, once 
your 'prentice days are past. In a way it is like a cold 
bath on a winter's morning, and you glow all day. In a 


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way it is like football, as the nimble aggravation dances 
to and fro. In a way it is like chess. Indeed, all games 
of skill are watered quarrels, quarrel and soda, come to 
see them in a proper light. And without quarrelling you 
have not fully appreciated your fellow-man. For in the 
ultimate it is the train and complement of Love, the 
shadow that rounds off the delight we take in poor 
humanity. It is the vinegar and pepper of existence, and 
long after our taste for sweets has vanished it will be the 
solace of our declining years. 


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It is possible that an education entirely urban is not the 
best conceivable preparation for descriptive articles upon 
the country. On the other . hand, your professional 
nature-lover is sometimes a little over-familiar with his 
subject He knows the names of all the things, and he 
does not spare you. Besides, he is subtle. The prominent 
features are too familiar to him, and he goes into details. 
What respectable townsman, for instance, knows what 
" scabiosa " is ? It sounds very unpleasant. Then the 
professional nature-lover assumes that you know trees. 
No Englishman can tell any tree from any other tree, 
except a very palpable oak or poplar. So that we may at 
least, as an experiment, allow a good Londoner to take his 
unsophisticated eyes out into the sweet country for once, 
and try his skill at nature-loving, though his botany has 
been learned over the counter of flower-shops, and his • 
zoology on Saturday afternoons when they have the band 
in the Gardens. He makes his way, then, over by Epsom 
Downs towards Sutton, trying to assimilate his mood to 
the proper flavour of appreciation as he goes, and with a 
little notebook in the palm of his hand to assist an ill- 
trained memory. And the burthen of his song is of 
course the autumn tints. 

The masses of trees towards Epsom and Ewell, with the 
red houses and Elizabethan facades peeping through their 
interstices, contain, it would seem, every conceivable 
colour, except perhaps sky-blue; there are brilliant 
yellow trees, and a kind of tree of the most amazing 
gamboge green, almost the green of spring come back, and 
tan-coloured trees, deep brown, red, and deep crimson 
trees. Here and there the wind has left its mark, and 


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the grey-brown branches and their purple tracery of 
twigs, with a suggestion of infinite depth behind, show 
through the rents in the leafy covering. There are deep 
green trees — the amateur nature-lover fancies they may 
be yews — with their dense warm foliage arranged in 
horizontal masses, like the clouds low down in a sunset ; 
and certain other evergreens, one particularly, with a 
bluish-green covering of upstanding needles, are intensely 
conspicuous among the flame tints around. On a distant 
church tower, and nearer, disputing the possession of a 
gabled red house with a glowing creeper, is some ivy ; and 
never is the perennial green of ivy so delightful as it is 
now, when all else is alight with the sombre fire of the 
sunset of the year . . . 

The amateur nature-lover proceeds over the down, 
appreciating all this as hard as he can appreciate, and 
anon gazing up at the grey and white cloud shapes 
melting slowly from this form to that, and showing lakes, 
and wide expanses, and serene distances of blue between 
their gaps. And then he looks round him for a zoological 
item. Underfoot the grass of the down is recovering 
from the summer drought and growing soft and green 
again, and plentiful little flattened snail shells lie about, 
and here and there a late harebell still nods in the breeze. 
Yonder bolts a rabbit, and then something whizzes by the 
amateur nature-lover's ear. 

They shoot here somewhere, he remembers suddenly; 
and then looking round, in a palpitating state, is reassured 
by the spectacle of a lone golfer looming over the brow 
of the down, and gesticulating black and weird against 
the sky. The Londoner, with an abrupt affectation of 
nonchalance, flings himself flat upon his back, and so 
remains comparatively safe until the golfer has passed. 
These golfers are strange creatures, rabbit-coloured, except 
that many are bright red about the middle, and they 
repel and yet are ever attracted by a devil in the shape of 
a little white ball, which leads them on through toothed 
briars, sharp furzes, pricking goss, and thorns; cursing 
the thing, weeping even, and anon laughing at their own 
f ool\Bh rambling ; muttering, heeding no one to the right 


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or left of their career, — demented creatures, as though 
these balls were their souls, that they ever sought to 
lose, and ever repented losing And silent, ever at the 
heel of each, is a familiar spirit, an eerie human hedge- 
hog, all set about with walking-sticks, a thing like a 
cylindrical umbrella-stand with a hat and boots and 
a certain suggestion of leg. And so they pass and are 

Rising, the amateur nature -lover finds he has been 
reclining on a puff-ball. These puff-balls are certainly 
the most remarkable example of adaptation to circum- 
stances known to English botanists. They grow abund- 
antly on golf grounds, and are exactly like golf-balls in 
external appearance. They are, however, Pharisees and 
whited sepulchres, and within they are full of a soft mess 
of a most unpleasant appearance — the amateur nature- 
lover has some on him now — which stuff contains the 
spores. It is a case of what naturalists call " mimicry " 
— one of nature's countless adaptations. The golf-player 
smites these things with force, covering himself with 
ridicule — and spores, and so disseminating this far-sighted 
and ingenious fungus far and wide about the links. 

The amateur nature -lover passes off the down, and 
towards Banstead village. He is on the watch for 
characteristic objects of the countryside, and rustling 
through the leaves beneath a chestnut avenue he comes 
upon an old boot. It is a very, very old boot, all its 
blacking washed off by the rain, and two spreading chest- 
nut leaves, yellow they are with blotches of green, with 
their broad fingers extended, rest upon it, as if they would 
protect and altogether cover the poor old boot in its last 
resting-place. It is as if Mother Nature, who lost sight 
of her product at the tanner's yard, meant to claim her own 
trampled child again at last, after all its wanderings. So 
we go on, noting a sardine tin gleaming brightly in the 
amber sunlight, through a hazel hedge, and presently 
another old boot. Some hawthorn berries, some hoary 
clematis we notice — and then another old boot. Alto- 
gether, it may be remarked, in this walk the amateur 
nature-lover saw eleven old boots, most of them dropped 

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in the very sweetest bits of hedge tangle and grassy corner 
about Banstead. 

It is natural to ask, " Whence come all these old boots ? " 
They are, as everyone knows, among the commonest objects 
in a country walk, so common, indeed, that the professional 
nature-lover says very little about them. They cannot 
grow there, they cannot be dropped from above — they are 
distinctly earth-worn boots. I have inquired of my own 
domestic people, and caused inquiry to be made in a large 
number of households, and there does not appear to be 
any regular custom of taking boots away to remote and 
picturesque spots to abandon them. Some discarded 
boots of my own were produced, but they were quite 
different from the old boot of the outer air. These home- 
kept old boots were lovely in their way, hoary with mould 
running into the most exquisite tints of glaucophane and 
blue-grey, but it was a different way altogether from that 
of the wild boot. 

A friend says, that these boots are cast away by tramps. 
People, he states, give your tramp old boots and hats in 
great profusion, and the modesty of the recipient drives 
him to these picturesque and secluded spots to effect the 
necessary change. But no nature-lover has ever observed 
the tramp or tramp family in the act of changing their 
clothes, and since there are even reasons to suppose that 
their garments are not detachable, it seems preferable to 
leave the wayside boot as a pleasant flavouring of mystery 
to our ramble. Another point, which i 1 ogoes to explode 
this tramp theory, is that these countryside boots never 
occur in pairs, as any observer of natural history can 
testify . . . 

So our Cockney Jefferies proceeds, presently coming 
upon a cinder path. They use cinders a lot about Sutton, 
to make country paths with ; it gives you an unexpected 
surprise the first time it occurs. You drop suddenly out 
of a sweetly tangled lane into a veritable bit of the Black 
Country, and go on with loathing in your soul for your 
fellow-creatures. There is also an abundance of that last 
product of civilisation, barbed wire. Oh that I were 
Gideon ! with thorns and briers of the wilderness would 


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I teach these elders of Sutton! But a truce to dark 
thoughts ! 

We take our last look at the country from the open 
down above Sutton. Blue hills beyond blue hills recede 
into the remote distance ; from Banstead Down one can 
see into Oxfordshire. Windsor Castle is in minute blue 
silhouette to the left, and to the right and nearer is the 
Crystal Palace. And closer, clusters red -roofed Sutton 
and its tower, then Cheam, with its white spire, and 
further is Ewell, set in a variegated texture of autumn 
foliage. Water gleams — a silver thread — at Ewell, and 
the sinking sun behind us catches a window here and 
there, and turns it into an eye of flame. And so to 
Sutton station and home to Cockneydom once more. 


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It will be some time yet before the rising of the moon. 
Looking down from the observatory one can see the path- 
ways across the park dotted out in yellow lamps, each 
with a fringe of dim green ; and further off, hot and bright, 
is the tracery of the illuminated streets, through which 
the people go to and fro. Save for an occasional stirring, or 
a passing voice speaking out of the dimness beneath me, 
the night is very stilL Not a cloud is to be seen in the 
dark midwinter sky to hide one speck of its broad smears 
of star dust and its shining constellations. 

As the moon rises, heaven will be flooded with blue 
light, and one after another the stars will be submerged 
and lost, until only a solitary shining pinnacle of bright- 
ness will here and there remain out of the whole host of 
them. It is curious to think that, were the moon but a 
little brighter and truly the ruler of the night, rising to 
its empire with the setting of the sun, we should never 
dream of the great stellar universe in which our little 
solar system swims — or know it only as a traveller's tale, 
a strange thing to be seen at times in the Arctic Circle. 
Nay, if the earth's atmosphere were some few score miles 
higher, a night-long twilight would be drawn like an 
impenetrable veil across the stars. By a mere accident 
of our existence we see their multitude ever and again, 
when the curtains of the daylight and moonlight, and of 
our own narrow pressing necessities, are for a little while 
drawn back. Then, for an interval, we look, aa if out of a 
window, into the great deep of heaven. So far as physical 
science goes, there is nothing in the essential conditions of 
our existence to necessitate that we should have these 
transitory glimpses of infinite space. We can imagine 



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men just like ourselves without such an outlook. But it 
happens that we have it. 

If we had not this vision, if we had always so much 
light in the sky that we could not perceive the stars, our 
lives, so far as we can infer, would be very much as they 
are now ; there would still be the same needs and desires, 
the same appliances for our safety and satisfaction ; this 
little gaslit world below would scarcely miss the stars 
now, if they were blotted out for ever. But our science 
would be different in some respects had we never seen 
them. We should still have good reason, in Foucault's 
pendulum experiment, for supposing that the world 
rotated upon its axis, and that the sun was so far 
relatively fixed ; but we should have no suspicion of the 
orbital revolution of the world. Instead we should ascribe 
the seasonal differences to a meridional movement of the 
sun. Our spectroscopic astronomy — so far as it refers to 
the composition of the sun and moon — would stand 
precisely where it does, but the bulk of our mathematical 
astronomy would not exist. Our calendar would still be 
in all essential respects as it is now ; our year with the 
solstices and equinoxes as its cardinal points. The texture 
of our poetry might conceivably be the poorer without its 
star spangles ; our philosophy, for the want of a nebular 
hypothesis. These would be the main differences. Yet, 
to those who indulge in speculative dreaming, how much 
smaller life would be with a sun and a moon and a blue 
beyond for the only visible, the only thinkable universe. 
And it is, we repeat, from the scientific standpoint a mere 
accident that the present — the daylight — world periodically 
opens, as it were, and gives us this inspiring glimpse of the 
remoteness of space. 

One may imagine countless meteors and comets 
streaming through the solar system, unobserved by those 
who dwelt under such conditions as have just been 
suggested, or some huge dark body from the outer depths 
sweeping straight at that little visible universe, and all 
unsuspected by the inhabitants. One may imagine the 
scientific people of such a world, calm in their assurance 
of the permanence of things, incapable almost of 

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conceiving any disturbing cause. One may imagine how 
an imaginative writer who doubted that permanence 
would be pooh-poohed. " Cannot we see to the uttermost 
limits of space?" they might argue, "and is it not 
altogether blue and void ? " Then, as the unseen visitor 
draws near, begin the most extraordinary perturbations. 
The two known heavenly bodies suddenly fail from their 
accustomed routine. The^ moon, hitherto invariably full, 
changes towards^ its last quarter — and then, behold ! for 
the first time the rays of the greater stars visibly pierce 
the blue canopy of the sky. How suddenly— painfully 
almost — the minds of thinking men would be enlarged 
when this rash of the stars appeared. 

And what then if our heavens were to open ? Very thin 
indeed is the curtain between us and the unknown. There 
is a fear of the night that is begotten of ignorance and 
superstition, a nightmare fear, the fear of the impossible ; 
and there is another fear of the night — of the starlit night 
— that comes with knowledge, when we see in its true 
proportion this little life of ours with all its phantasmal 
environment of cities and stores and arsenals, and the 
habits, prejudices, and promises of men^l Down there in 
the gaslit street such things are real and solid enough, the 
only real things, perhaps ; but not up here, not under the 
midnight sky. Here for a space, standing silently upon 
the dim, grey tower of the old observatory, we may clear 
our minds of instincts and illusions, and look out upon the 
real. (p\ 

And now to the eastward the stars are no longer 
innumerable, and the sky grows wan. Then a faint 
silvery mist appears above the housetops, and at last in 
the midst of this there comes a brilliantly shining line — 
the upper edge of the rising moon. 

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On a sharp, sunlight morning, when the white clouds are 
drifting swiftly across the luminous blue sky, there is no 
finer walk about London than the Highgate ridge. One 
may stay awhile on the Archway looking down upon the 
innumerable roofs of London stretching southward into 
the haze, and shining here and there with the reflection of 
the rising sun, and then wander on along the picturesque 
road by the college of Saint Aloysius to the new Catholic 
church, and so through the Waterlow Park to the 
cemetery. The Waterlow Park is a pleasant place, full of 
children and aged persons in perambulators during the 
middle hours of the day, and in the summer evening time 
a haunt of young lovers ; but your early wanderer finds it 
solitary save for Vertumnus, who, with L.C.C. on the 
front of him, is putting in crocuses. So we wander down 
to the little red lodge, whence a sinuous road runs to 
Hampstead, and presently into the close groves of monu- 
ments that whiten the opposite slope. 

How tightly these white sepulchres are packed here! 
How different this congestion of sorrow from the mossy 
latitude of God's Acre in the country! The dead are 
crammed together as closely as the living seemed in that 
bird's-eye view from the Archway. There is no ample 
shadow of trees, no tangled corners where mother earth 
may weave flower garlands over her returning children. 
The monuments positively jostle and elbow each other for 
frontage upon the footways. And they are so rawly clean 
and assertive. Most of them are conspicuously new 
whitened, with freshly-blackened ornewly-gilt inscriptions, 


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bare of lichen, moss, or mystery, and altogether so restless 
that it seems to the meditative man that the struggle for 
existence, for mere standing room and a show in the 
world, still rages among the dead. The unstable slope of 
the hill, with its bristling array of obelisks, crosses and 
urns, craning one above another, is as directly opposed to 
the restf ulness of the village churchyard with its serene 
outspreading yews as midday Fleet Street to a Sabbath 
evening amidst the Sussex hills. This cemetery is, indeed, 
a veritable tumult of tombs. 

Another thing that presently comes painfully home 
to one is the lack of individuality among all these dead. 
Not a necessary lack of individuality so much as a deliberate 
avoidance of it. As one wanders along the steep, narrow 
pathways one is more and more profoundly impressed by 
the wholesale flavour of the mourning, the stereotyping of 
the monuments. The place is too modern for memento 
mori and the hour-glass and the skull. Instead, Slap 
& Dash, that excellent firm of monumental masons, 
everywhere crave to be remembered. Truly, the firm of 
Slap & Dash have much to answer for among these 
graves, and they do not seem to be ashamed of it. 

From one elevated point in this cemetery one can 
count more than a hundred urns, getting at last weary 
and confused with the receding multitude. The urn is 
not dissimilar to the domestic mantel ornament, and 
always a stony piece of textile fabric is feigned to be 
thrown over its shoulder. At times it is wreathed in 
stony flowers. The only variety is in the form. Some- 
times your urn is broad and squat, a Silenus among urns ; 
sometimes fragile and high-shouldered, like a slender old 
maid ; here an " out-size " in urns stalwart and strong, and 
there a dwarf peeping quaintly from its wrapping. The 
obelisks, too, run through a long scale of size and refinement. 
But the curious man finds no hidden connection between 
the carriage of the monument and the character of the dead. 
Messrs. Slap & Dash apparently take the urn or obelisk 
that comes readiest to hand. One wonders dimly why 
mourners have this overwhelming proclivity for Messrs. 
Slap & Dash and their obelisk and urn. 

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The reason why the firm produces these articles may be 
guessed at. They are probably easy to make, and require 
scarcely any skill. The contemplative man has a dim 
vision of a grimy shed in a back street, where a human 
being passes dismally through life the while he chips out 
an unending succession of these cheap urns and obelisks 
for his employers' retailing. But the question why 
numberless people will profane the memory of their 
departed by these public advertisements of Slap & Dash, 
and their evil trade, is a more difficult problem. For 
surely nothing could be more unmeaning or more 
ungainly than the monumental urn, unless it be the 
monumental obelisk. The plain cross, by contrast, has 
the tenderest meaning, and is a simple and fitting 
monument that no repetition can stale. 

The artistic cowardice of the English is perhaps the 
clue to the mystery. Your Englishman is always afraid 
to commit himself to criticism without the refuge of a 
tu quoque. He is covered dead, just as he is covered 
living, with the " correct thing." A respectable stock-in- 
trade is proffered him by the insinuating shopman, to 
whom it is our custom to go. He is told this is selling 
well, or that is much admired. Heaven defend that he 
should admire on his own account ! He orders the stock 
urn or the stock slab because it is large and sufficiently 
expensive for his means and sorrow, and because he 
knows of nothing better. So we mourn as the stonemason 
decrees, or after the example and pattern of the Smiths 
next door. But some day it will dawn upon us that a 
little thought and a search after beauty are fax more 
becoming than an order and a cheque to the nearest 
advertising tradesman. Or it may be we shall conclude 
•that the anonymous peace of a grassy mould is better 
than his commercial brutalities, and so there will be an 
end of him. 

One may go from end to end of this cemetery and find 
scarcely anything beautiful, appropriate, or tender. A 
lion, ill done, and yet to some degree impressive, lies 
complacently above a menagerie keeper, and near this 
is a tomb of some imagination, with reliefs of the life of 


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Christ. In one place a grotesque horse, with a head dis- 
proportionately vast, is to be seen. Perhaps among all 
these monuments the one to Mrs. Blake is the most 
pleasing. It is a simply and quaintly executed kneeling 
figure, with a certain quiet and pathetic reverence of pose 
that is strangely restful against the serried vulgarity 
around it 

But the tradesman ghoul will not leave us ; he follows 
us up and down, indecently clamouring his name and 
address, and at last turns our meditation to despair. 
Certain stock devices become as painful as popular 
autotypes. There is the lily broken on its stalk; we 
meet it here on a cross and there on an obelisk, presently 
on the pedestal of an urn. There is the hand pointing 
upward, here balanced on the top of an obelisk and 
there upon a cross. The white-robed angel, free from the 
remotest shadow of expression, meets us again and again. 
" All this is mine," says the tradesman ghoul. " Behold 
the names of me — Slap & Dash here, the Ugliness 
Company there, and this the work of the Cheap and 
Elegant Funeral Association. This is where we slew the 
art of sculpture. These are our trophies that sculpture is 
no more. All this marble might have been beautiful, all 
this sorrow might have been expressive, had it not been for 
us. See, this is our border, No. A 5, and our pedestal 
No. E, and our second quality urn, along of a nice 
appropriate text — a pretty combination and a cheap 
one. Or we can do it you better in border A 3, and 
pedestal C, and a larger urn or a hangel " 

The meditative man is seized with a dismal horror, and 
retreats to the gates. Even there a wooden advertisement 
grins broadly at him in his discomfiture, and shouts a 
name athwart his route. And so down the winding road 
to the valley, and then up Parliament Hill towards 
Hampstead and its breeze-whipped ponds. And the 
mind of him is full of a dim vision of days that have been, 
when sculptor and stonemason were one, when the artist 
put his work in the porch for all the world to see, when 
people had leisure to think how things should be done and 
heart to do them well, when there was beauty in the 

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business of life and dignity in death. And he wonders 
rather hopelessly if people will ever rise up against these 
damnable tradesmen who ruin our arts, make our lives 
costly and dismal, and advertise, advertise even on our 

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It is now ten years ago since I received my death 
warrant All these ten years I have been, and I am, 
and shall be, I hope, for years yet, a Doomed Man. It 
only occurred to me yesterday that I had been dodging — 
missing rather than dodging — the common enemy for such 
a space of time. Then, I know, I respected him. It 
seemed he marched upon me, inexorable, irresistible ; even 
at last I felt his grip upon me. I bowed in the shadow. 
And he passed. Ten years ago, and once since, he and I 
have been very near. But now he seems to me but a 
blind man, and we, with all our solemn folly of medicine 
and hygiene, but players in a game of Blind Man's Buff. 
The gaunt, familiar hand comes out suddenly, swiftly, 
this time surely ? And it passes close to my shoulder ; I 
hear someone near me cry, and it is over. . . . Another 
ream of paper ; there is time at least for the Great Book 

Very close to the tragedy of life is the comedy, 
brightest upon the very edge of the dark, and I remember 
now with a queer touch of sympathetic amusement 
my dear departed self of the middle eighties. How the 
thing staggered me ! I was full of the vast ambition of 
youth; I was still at the age when death is quite 
out of sight, when life is still an interminable vista 
of years; and then suddenly, with a gout of blood 
upon my knuckle, with a queer familiar taste in 
my mouth, that cough which had been a bother became 
a tragedy, and this world that had been so solid grew 
faint and thin. I saw through it ; saw his face near to my 
own ; suddenly found him beside me, when I had been 
dreaming he was far beyond there, far away over the hills. 


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My first phase was an immense sorrow for myself. 
It was a purely selfish emotion. You see I had been 
saving myself up, denying myself half the pride of life 
and most of its indulgence, drilling myself like a drill- 
sergeant, with my eyes on those now unattainable hills. 
Had I known it was to end so soon, I should have 
planned everything so differently. I lay in bed mourning 
my truncated existence. Then presently the sorrow 
broadened. They were so sorry, so genuinely sorry for 
me. And they considered me so much now. I had this 
and that they would never have given me before-^the 
stateliest bedding, the costliest food. I could feel from 
my bed the suddenly disorganised house, the distressed 
friends, the new-born solicitude. Insensibly a realisation 
of enhanced importance came to temper my regrets for 
my neglected sins. The lost world, that had seemed so 
brilliant and attractive, dwindled steadily as the days of 
my illness wore on. I thought more of the world's loss, 
and less of my own. 

Then came the long journey ; the princely style of it ! 
the sudden awakening on the part of external humanity, 
which had hitherto been wont to jostle me, to help itself 
before me, to turn its back upon me, to my importance. 
" He has a diseased lung — cannot live long "... 

I was going into the dark and I was not afraid — with 
"ostentation. I still regard that, though now with scarcely 
so much gravity as heretofore, as a very magnificent 
period in my life. For nearly four months I was dying 
with immense dignity. Plutarch might have recorded it 
I wrote — in touchingly unsteady pencil — to all my 
intimate friends, and indeed to many other people. I 
saw the littleness of hate and ambition. I forgave my 
enemies, and they were subdued and owned to it. How 
they must regret these admissions! I made many 
memorable remarks. This lasted, I say, nearly four 

The medical profession, which had pronounced my 
death sentence, reiterated it steadily — has, indeed, done 
so now this ten years. Towards the end of those four 
months, however, dying lost its freshness for me. I 


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began to detect a certain habitual quality in my service. 
I had exhausted all my memorable remarks upon the 
subject, and the strain began to tell upon all of us. 

One day in the spring-time I crawled out alone, care- 
fully wrapped, and with a stick, to look once more — 
perhaps for the last time — on sky and earth, and the first 
scattered skirmishers of the coming army of flowers. It 
was a day of soft wind, when the shadows of the clouds 
go sweeping over the hills. Quite casually I happened 
upon a girl clambering over a hedge, and her dress had 
caught in a bramble, and the chat was quite impromptu 
and most idyllic. I remember she had three or four 
wood anemones in her hand — "wind stars" she called 
them, and I thought it a pretty name. And we talked 
of this and that, with a light in our eyes, as young folks 

I quite forgot I was a Doomed Man. I surprised 
myself walking home with a confident stride that jarred 
with the sudden recollection of my funereal circumstances, 
For a moment I tried in vain to think what it was had 
slipped my memory. Then it came, colourless and re- 
mote. "Oh! Death. . . . He's a Bore," I said; "I've 
done with him," and laughed to think of having done with 

" And why not so ? " said I. 


This book appeared some years ago at another price and in another 
form. The Publisher believes that its present guise will bring it 
within the reach of all and sundry, who, while delighting in the 
marriage of wit with wisdom, cannot complete the trilogy with the 
third desideratum of wealth. 


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WVi uii 

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To Furnish Smartly & & 

Without Disturbing Capital 


BY means of a perfectly 
simple plan (com- 
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you may furnish your 
House, Chambers, or Flat 
throughout, — and to the 
extent of Linen, Silver, 
and Cutlery, — Out of 
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A beautifully coloured 
Catalogue given on per- 
sonal application. 



43r 118, Queen Victoria St, EX. 

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A H Ifti rt II A A A A JrsJl v 

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